Gema’s gone … gently

I wrote this is in 2000, when we had to put down our beloved Gema. Those who have had to put down beloved pets know our pain. This is in memory of Gema.


Gema’s Gone … Gently.

Copyright by Dan Windisch 080900

August 8, 2000 4 PM or so

Gema knew. Gema was ready. It was us it was so hard on. We will miss her so.

Usually when we took Gema to the Vet her whole body shook with fear. You had to drag her into the door. Gema’s fear eyes looked at us with soul eyes wondering how people she loved could bring her here. When previously we had lifted Gema onto the stainless steel exam table, her whole body shook. When receiving vaccinations she whimpered, trembled. She couldn’t wait to rush out the door.

Today Gema did not shake as we entered the vets office. Gema walked steadily, despite her labored, fast, heavy breathing. Her eyes did not flash fear as we lifted her onto the stainless steel exam table. She panted heavily in the hot afternoon, on that cool table.  That, and her distended belly were the only indicators of her failing heart.

She enjoys the cool of the table, my massaging her neck and spine, Mary Joyce petting her, Debbie on the other side petting her.  I’m looking at Gema’s face. Gema looks straight ahead, head up, a regal old red golden retriever, eyes focused at a place beyond the walls. Gema has that semi-smile golden retrievers have when they know they are loved. She does not notice our tears. Tears of 40 and 50 year olds are thin, and flow fast. Gema doesn’t notice. She feels only our love.

Dr. Pinckney is an old man. Stooped. Warm heart kept covered… perhaps that is why he had that heart attack so many years ago. Very professional, doesn’t say much.

His vet assistant is new. Her compassion is apparent. This is obviously hard on her. She says so.

Gema continues looking ahead, not shaking, enjoying our touch, feeling our love. Dr. Pinckney turns away from us. He tries not to let us see as he fills a syringe from a vial that says “Poison” in bold letters. I think only I see that.

Dr. Pinckney says “I will need to remove a bit  of Gema’s right front leg hair.”  With gentle quick scissors clips he removes the hair without even nicking Gema. I am surprised that this stooped, shaky old man has such steady quick hands.

He wipes the injection site with alcohol. I’m shocked, between my tear, with the irony. No worry of future infection here! No need… yet somehow comforting. Habits that are no longer needed are often comforting.

We continue to pet Gema, our eyes filled and flowing with those 10W weight tears, sending her our years of love and thankfulness for all she has meant to us.

Dr. Pinckney puts a rubber tourniquet around Gema’s right front leg, tightens it a bit, inserts the syringe, (Gema doesn’t flinch, continues to look forward), injects the poison, and then releases the tourniquet. For a second or two Gema looks ahead with just the slightest quizzical look, then lowers her head gently to the table, eyes open. Dr. Pinckney puts his hand on her side, says “She’s Gone.” He walks out the door.

I pat Mary Joyce on the back. I  wish I could do more for her, but there is this HUGE block of sadness blocking my throat. I can’t talk as the tears roll down my face. I’m mute with grief and sadness. Yet despite how hard it is, I am also glad I am here. Glad I could love Gema and pet Gema and massage Gema at the end. Honor her. Yet it is SO hard. The lump in my throat so huge. The sadness so overwhelming.

Gema’s eyes are open and she looks so relaxed.  Debbie asks if we can close her eyes, the vet assistant says they can’t be closed.

I continue to pet Gema, massage her. Mary Joyce says I don’t need to pet her anymore. She’s gone. I say nothing… The lump in my throat blocks my voice. Yet, if I could have talked I would have said that “I think Gema is still a bit here, and I want the last thing she feels to be my hands loving her.” And my the throat gets more constricted, the light weight tears flow faster … I don’t want to let her go.


        That night for the first time in a very long time I decide to go gambling. I tell Gema as I drive to the Casino that if I win, I’ll give half of my winnings to Mary Joyce. I play Caribbean Stud, have a string of  good hands, then the streak ends. I know it is time to stop, I thank Gema, win $56. The casino has a $15.95 steak and lobster special. I eat alone cherishing the lobster and steak, and between tears no one can see,  I raise a glass of ice water in Gema’s honor. Thank you Gema.


August 8th Midnight

Tears stain my clean pillowcase as I thank God for all that GEMA has added to my life.

Favorite memories of Gema

February 1, 1989. I meet this new lady on my 40th birthday via her response to my personal ad. It is snowing that day. Schools are closed, my young niece and nephew, Danika and Robbie, come over to my house. They recognize the photo of this new lady as Ms. O’Brien, a school teacher they know. They say I’ll like her. They are right. I call her that night and bring her some birthday cake.  She has this 5 month old golden retriever named Gema, named so because she is a gem. I love petting Gema, especially her ears, they are so warm and soft and can be rubbed between my fingers. I joke about wanting to have them after Gema dies.

Gema, Mary Joyce and I go on our first walk together. In the snow, up Lawrence Street to the University of Puget Sound, through evergreens, past the A frames on campus, and back. it is a magical night, fresh snow makes everything new, white, fresh. Gema wearing her young dog body rushes ahead, smells everything, leaves paw prints in the snow. Life is fresh and new. Many more walks will follow.


Ocean Shores and Newport.  Gema is a puppy still. We go crabbing off the docks. Wire cages with salmon head bait thrown into blue waters. Gema excited, sees the ocean for the first time. So much to see! Moving ahead she looks to the right and walks over the left edge of the dock! I have to lean over, with someone holding my legs, to pull her out of the freezing water. That night at the motel she is distracted again and falls into the swimming pool! For the rest of her life Gema is leery of water. And Gema is a water dog! It would take many years before she would walk into the lake on very hot days to cool off. She never swam or went out beyond where her feet touched the bottom.


Summer School. Mary Joyce and I are both teaching classes at Saint Martin’s. A call comes. Gema is starting to have her puppies. MJ and I rush home in separate cars. Gema is in the basement, in the cool. Puppy after puppy comes out. We hold hand size puppies up to her to lick. She hurts, and is exhausted, but does her mother thing. She’s glad we are there. Puppies new to the world with eyes closed snuggle against her, drinking milk in the frantic way new life does.


Later that summer. Puppies grow so fast, so many, Gema is a bit overwhelmed! Most of the puppies are given to family.


I pet Gema, she looks up, and lifts an eyebrow, and looks so deep into my eyes with her sad eyes. I stop for a second. She nudges me with her hand to start again. A pattern develops, every time I stop petting her or massaging her, her tail starts wagging. “More.” “More.”


Gema Loves chasing the tennis ball. Isn’t too smart though! Time after time I pretend to throw it one way, she runs in that direction, sees nothing, turns around, and I throw it in another directions!  She is so funny, I can’t help but laugh. She wants to fetch the ball, but doesn’t want to give it up after she brings it back. I have to pry it out of her mouth! Seems very human to me.


Gema is prancing, golden red, ahead of us on our walks in the woods at Dupont. Smelling everything, chasing smells into woods, looking back to make sure we are coming. Reveling in the fragrance of the woods.


Gema licks her leg, won’t stop. Over the years it becomes a gaping wound. “Loneliness” says the vet.


An ugly wart develops on Gema’s nose. We have it removed finally. It never totally heals.


Gema has heart failure, often can’t raise her head. Doesn’t eat for 3 weeks. I often go over and lay beside here, tears flowing, just petting her, reminding her of all the great times we’ve had together. Thanking her. Sometimes for an hour or more. Dr. Pinckney prescribes some heart medicine that might help in a few weeks. We think Gema is going to die. But she gets better! To my joy we walk again in the woods, Gema prancing ahead. Smelling everything in her dog ways. It is sheer joy to see her do that again.


For 6 months she is better. Then begins to degenerate. Slower on the walks, hard to get up, stomach starting to distend with fluids.  My final walk with her is August 7th. Gema is walking because she loves us, not because she enjoys the walk. The next day she goes on a walk with MJ and her dad. After she gets back, she falls down, can’t get up, has a terrible time breathing. MJ calls me. We both know it is time. Time to have her put down. I lay next to her on the cool floor once again. Tell her once more, and again, how much I love her, as I pet her. Tears flow, but that’s ok.  I stop … her tail starts to wag. I pet her again. We decide to call the vet. Gema goes outside lays on the cool pavement. Then lays on the beauty bark in the garden, smelling the smells as she breathes so hard and fast.

We call her and she gets into the car and we drive to Dr. Pinckney’s.


Thank you Gema for all your love.



Beauty in the photographs details: Summer Backlit Daisy

What I love about this lovely backlit Daisy:

I love how each white petal tip is uniquely beautiful, curved and pointed,
I love the orange yellow center, with their gorgeous geometric shapes,
I love the backlit whiteness,
I love the 2 companion daisies at the bottom of the photo,
I love the darkness contrast of the background.



The photo also reminds me of HAL in 2001 A space odyssey, 
where he sings “Daisy” as he is being dismantled by Dave.
“I’m scared Dave… will I dream?”

 “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do
I’m half crazy all for the love of you
It won’t be a stylish marriage
I can’t afford a carriage, but you’ll look sweet upon the seat
Of a bicycle built for two.”


Ribs of wooden deck chairs.

Ribs of wooden deck chairs
By Dan Windisch
June 3, 2017
On the Queen Mary 2

 On the wet, empty, reflecting,
Teak walking deck,
of the Queen Mary 2, 
in Mid Atlantic,

Ribs of wooden deck chairs,
face into the early-morning dense fog.

While gentle rolling ocean waves,
roll by. 


Beauty in the photographs details: Lily B&W

Below is the original photograph, and the final edited photograph of the lily.

I wanted to emphasize the gorgeous nature of the Lily, eliminate the distraction of the background, eliminate the orange of the stigma, and make the background black. What remains is the awe-inspiring shapes, curves, and texture of this amazing flower!


Beauty in the photographs details: Hollyhock Chair Boat

There is so much in this photograph that I love.

The place itself I love. It is the Hollyhock Retreat center on Cortes Island in British Columbia, a beautiful, remote, and Magical, Transformative place, especially in the summertime. I first went there in 1978 And attended a 13 week long Resident fellow program with a different workshop each week. I attended a dream workshop where I learned that I was Dan, Dan, The rainbow man, a healer and a teacher. And for the last 45 years, I’ve lived being a Healer and a teacher. I learned about Quan Yen (or Kuan Yin),The bodhisattva of compassion. I learned it from John Blofeld, that Very British China convert, Who wrote so beautifully about Quan Yen (or Kuan Yin), and also  translated the I Ching. John Blofeld so enjoyed his afternoon tea :). I learned about the I Ching, and Tarot cards. And I learned from the wind, the trees, low and high tides, I learned from the lapping of the water, BJ, Whiskey and orange juice, early morning sunshine, the wonderful gardens, and even more wonderful vegetarian meals. I learned by working with Bill Glackman, now a lifetime friend, doing handyman work around the then COld Mountain Institute.

But what do I love about this picture! I love the early morning light, with the side-light and long shadows. I love the empty chair and the empty boat, both waiting for us/me/you.

I can feel myself sitting in that chair, with my eyes closed, warm, with the sunshine on my face and arms in the cool morning, and ever so gently, I feel a slight breeze. With each breath, I breathe in the light, salty smells of the sea. I hear the gentle lapping of water on the beach. I hear the bird calls of morning,  welcoming the new day. That chair is a place to simply be, mindfully and appreciatively.

The empty boat, red and white and waiting, Is not about mindfulness. The empty boat is about adventure awaiting! Come,Let us row away to adventure! Morning is the time for both contemplation and beginning of adventures! I love that in this photograph.

I love the colors, the greens of the grass and the tree. I love the shades of blues in the sea, and in the mountains across the sea.  I love the bands of lighter color blue on the water.

I love how small I am in that early morning light, And how big that quiet sea is,  and how the shrouded mountains are at the top the photograph.

I love the lines of the small waves, lapping towards the shore.

I love the juxtaposition of the living Green tree, the stump, and the wooden chair. Three stages of existence?

I love the variations between the rocky shore, The tidal zone with it’s small rocks and mud , and the two big rocks In the nearby shallow water.

When I look at this picture, I feel gratitude, the hopes of a new morning, The beckoning of mindfulness and adventure, and the sheer beauty of it all: colors, bands of blue and green, and waves, sea, trees, shore, chair, boat, and distant mountains… and ME!


Dan’s “Images of Peace” art show at St. Placids in Lacey May 19 7-930pm

Below are my photos that I will be sharing and selling at  the “Images of Peace” Art Show at St. Placid Priory in Lacey, WA on May 19 7-930pm.

Tickets are available at:

I find that these photos bring me a sense of peace, and I hope that they also do that for you!



Our first daffodil of Spring 2017

Our first daffodil of Spring! It reminds me of the quote from one of my favorite movies, “City of Angels” where Nicolas Cage reads the following from Hemingway. Cycles, and even pain, end, as flowers bloom once again.

“You expected to be sad in the fall. Part of you died each year when the leaves fell from the trees and their branches were bare against the wind and the cold, wintery light. But you knew there would always be the spring, as you knew the river would flow again after it was frozen.”
― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast


Access and sharing of Beauty: 1970 IBM 360 versus the Iphone 6s Plus

I’ve been thinking about the amazing ingenuity and creativity in the area of computing since 1970 that makes access to, and the development of, beauty possible. In Spring quarter 1970 I took a computer programming class using Fortran. I now have an iPhone 6S Plus. Below are the comparisons  between the two machines That I collected online from Wikipedia. The differences in computing are  amazing!

The IBM 360 required Punch Cards for each line of code. If you made a mistake you would have to retype each punch card with a mistake on it.  I would submit my stack of punch cards in the morning, and pick up a printout in the afternoon. Usually there were mistakes in my coding, and I’d have to redo my punch cards again and submit again. The programming was only in Fortran.  There was no other input or output available to me as a student.

Wow, what a difference now! my iPhone, that fits in the palm of my hand,  is 111 times as fast is that  IBM 360, and has 16000 times the storage. The IBM 360 cost $253,000 in 1970; My iphone cost $750 in 2015. The Iphone has voice recognition, fingerprint recognition, Multi-touch touchscreen display, triple microphone, Apple M8 motion coprocessor, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, digitalcompass, iBeacon, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, Touch ID fingerprint reader, barometer (from Wikipedia 2/20/17) 2 cameras, internet, and email. I also can dictate and have it converted to text files.

I can, and do, access  great art from museums around the world  and other places on the internet. I also can share my blog, my art, and my writing and poetry, which is immediately accessible to anyone with internet access anywhere in the world.

I only wish that the ingenuity and creativity  could have helped us become more compassionate and appreciative  and supportive of each other as humans and sentient beings on this amazingly beautiful planet Earth.


  IBM 360 (1969) at Western Washington University My IPhone 6 Plus 2016
cost $253,000. For a typical system $750
input IBM punch cards, tape Multi-touch touchscreen display, triple microphone, Apple M8 motion coprocessor, 3-axis gyroscope, 3-axis accelerometer, digitalcompass, iBeacon, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, Touch ID fingerprint reader, barometer (from Wikipedia 2/20/17)

2 cameras, internet, email, also can dictate and have it converted to text

Speed of cpu The 1967 IBM System/360 Model 91 could do up to 16.6 MB instructions per second.[4] (from Wikipedia 2/20/17) 1.85 GHz dual-core 64-bit ARMv8-A[2][3] “Twister”

(My iphone is 111 times as fast as the IBM 360!)

Space and weight Took up a whole floor of a building at WWU and weighed 6.8 ounces, fits in the  palm of my hand
storage up to 8 MB of main memory … 512 KB, 768 KB or 1024 KB was more common (from Wikipedia 2/20/17) 128 gb (the iphone has 16,000 times the storage that the IBM 360!)
output Line printer Screen, telephone, internet, email, social media, photos, videos