On Death with Dignity

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I just put my horse Willie down today.  Actually, calling him my horse is a bit of an exaggeration.  He was Rhine and April’s horse, and Amy’s horse, and Romey’s horse, and also my horse.  I rode him for about five years before he was retired from the saddle eight or so years ago.  He lived in the field with Donkey Hodie after that, just being a horse.  He had a great life.

I want to tell you about Willie’s death.

First, a story.  My mother died of Leukemia in 2003.  Her death was a typical upper middle class American death—in a hospital bed, surrounded by her children and her husband of many years (my dad).  Mom had only suffered through cancer treatment for a year or so.  Having been stricken during a Thanksgiving drive north, she then briefly beat the cancer into remission with a bone marrow transfusion.  But in the end, the leukemia came raging back and killed her in a couple of weeks.

The last week was bad.  Basically, mom was gone and was being kept alive by vigilant hospital care—hydrated, fed through an IV, medicated, and drugged out of her mind.  We had a DNR order in place.  We tried “administering her drugs all at once.”  Basically every euphemism for euthanasia was obtusely explored.   But she hung in there for two or three days as we all kept vigil.  Finally her kidneys were overwhelmed by the morphine, I guess, and she started to balloon up as she went septic.  We all knew she was going to die, and there was absolutely no point in pretending otherwise.

So finally we had an idea.  “Lets hook her up with a self-administering morphine drip,” I said.  This for a woman who had not moved or said a word in three days.  The staff made it happen.  So “she,” meaning I, pressed the button for several hours until my mother finally died.  It was all very absurd and not at all easy.  I remember the death rattle and the weird intakes of air every 2 minutes near the very end.

Fast forward to twenty years later.  Willie was 32.  He only had 2 teeth left on each side of his mouth, and he could no longer chew grass.  He could eat grain, but not with any efficiency.  It took him hours to eat a couple of scoops.  Basically, Willie was slowly starving to death.  In consultation with the horse dentist, I decided he would suffer too much during the winter.  It was his time.

So I called the vet who has known willie for years.  He and his partner came out this morning.  Willie was in the paddock with Hodie having a last meal of grain.  He spent a couple of hours before that in the sun in the field, grazing without actually getting any grass chewed.  We walked him down to the spot where he will be buried, fed him some more grain, sedated him, and injected him all in about ten minutes.  Willie was calm when he died.  He died fast.  And he died easy.  He did not suffer a pointless winter, half starved.  In fact, he did not suffer at all.

When it comes time for me to die, I would rather die like Willie, with some dignity, than like my mother.

Goodbye Willie.  Thanks for being a good horse.  Good boy he was.

Where’s Aubrey at the Barns of Rose Hill 11/11


Thanks to you, the Where’s Aubrey show Saturday 11/11 was a smashing success.  We played to an enthusiastic full house, missing a sell out of the venue by only four tickets.  JOBIE’s opening set was excellent.  An all around evening of great music performed for a good cause.

Speaking of which, together we raised $3305 on Saturday evening with $1983 going to the Shenandoah Riverkeeper to protect our local river.

We also released our ninth record, Hole, which is now available on most streaming services including spotify.  If you would like to join the 18 people who bought a physical copy of the CD for old time’s sake, just get in touch.

Where’s Aubrey before the show: Rhine Singleton, Charles Arthur, Gary McGraw, and Nick Schrenk.

Here are some pictures and videos of the show in approximate chronological order arranged by set lists.  What a night!

The band on stage: Nick on Drums, McGraw on fiddle, Rhine on Guitar, and Charles on everything else.

BORH 11/11: Set One

Your Lies Are Gone


Ghosts on the Farm


The Miles Roll By

Snippet only


Dirty Blond Haired Girl


Brown Like Your Cinnamon

*** (stage lighting changed as we performed the entire new record)

All songs linked below to spotify tracks from the record.


Ever Enough


Holes in My Pride


Drawing Back Your Blade


Restless Water


These Ain’t my Pearls


Forty Crows


Snippet only


BORH 11/11: Set Two

Take it Away

Eli’s Song

Full Up

Far too Empty

It Ain’t that Far to Fall


Snippet only

Ham Bone (during a broken string changing exercise)


One More Roadhouse

*** (record over, we ended the concert with full band)

Irish Goodbye (JOBIE cover)

Full video


Full video (different angle)


Devlish Situation


Into a Cloud

Snippet only


Has it Ever Been this Good


JOBIE opening set

Special thanks to Jen Lee for photographs and show publicity.  April Claggett also provided photos and videos.  Romey Michael provided video of Irish Goodbye.  Some images above are Copyrighted.

Vigeland Park Oslo

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Iulie on the Farm

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Down to the river

Checking on the new tree (planted earlier this year).



Murray in Da House

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Another McGraw is just what the world needs!




River Run with Joan and John

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Ah, the Shenandoah.  Though the river is desperately low this summer, floating down it is relaxing and wonderful.

The JoanJohn monster glom.

The romey.

All together now.

And then we had cocktails and played a little music.  Yes please!

Fashion in the Big Pickle: Karl Lagerfeld- A Line of Beauty at the MOMA

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A quick hit to NY was just the right opportunity to spend a few hours steeped in high fashion.  The MOMA’s Karl Lagerfeld show is excellent.  Well curated, interesting, and aware of its own ridiculous nature.  Go see for yourself.

First, your hosts all snazzed up.  (One eagle eyed NY fashion geek recognized Romey’s vintage skirt.)

Without further commentary, some bits for the bit pile, led off by sparkle. We proceed backwards in time.


We pause now for station identification.

This interlude brought to you by Romey’s eye for high fashion.


Iulie Turns Five

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Sometimes you turn five.

Three generations.

Of course there was cake, decorated by O.



The present pile was impressive.


Dogs at Play: Ocean Isle

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The Stick with two dogs!  Including the new puppy Maybeline and Moonshine (who has already been to the beach this year).

Digging in the morning!

The sand and the ocean sans leash.

Iulie’s Spring Visit

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Things are busy when you visit Bubbie at the farm.  Always good to stock up on jelly beans first!  A late visit from the Easter Bunny…

In the buttercups.

One of our highlights each visit is walking along the river on our trail.  Iulie is a trooper, but about a mile or so of the walk is usually on piggyback.

Brand new leaves (one day old)

There are lot of animals to contend with, including Boot the cat.

What’s better?  Strawberries?  Captain Crunch?

We planted some Zinia seeds here.  Now we have two wait two weeks!  Which is infinity when you’re four.

Wild times with Moonshine on the trampoline in the “park.”

“Hello?  I can’t hear you, I have a banana in my ear.”

Hole digging before tree planting.

The great grandparents celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary.   Fancy pants dinner was fun, even at 4 and 86.

Three generations (with a fourth not here).  Mother, daughter, granddaughter.

Candyland for the 999th time.

The new sycamore planted by Iulie herself with some help from the tractor.

Then a party for Claudio where new friends were made.  Girls in a tree.

The trampoline is electrifying.

The long days catch up.

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