Sunday, October 31, 2010

May the Spirits Be with You

Theme in Yellow
by Carl Sandburg

I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o’-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

[For more Halloween poetry, visit the Poetry Foundation.]

Friday, October 29, 2010

Crawling the Web

Someone is coming today to “fix” our Internet access. Of course, that someone was supposed to be here on Tuesday but didn’t show until well after the time range given to us. We had already gone. The company was good enough to provide a $20 credit for the tardiness.

When I called the first time, the fellow in tech support looked over our account and said, “Yes, I can see you’ve had sporadic-at-best signals for…oh…about a month now.”

I countered, “You’re right. And that’s exactly how long we’ve had your company’s service!”

At least we’re agreed that there’s a problem, I thought. Yet the customer service rep I talked to on Wednesday to reschedule the appointment said the tech fellow was wrong. “He shouldn’t have told you that.”

Right. If the truth will hurt, keep mum about it.

[The Gustav Klimt painting has nothing to do with this post except that it’s real purty here today and I resent having to sit inside.]

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Dinosaurs, Primates, and Thoroughbreds: Looking for My Dream Job

While reading Gregg Levoy’s Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life, I realized I’ve envisioned working with animals or on their behalf since I was first asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Hence my application for a position at a primate sanctuary recently.

I could hardly believe my luck when I saw the ad—“No experience necessary. Will train.”

So I researched the place, got to know the residents, and crafted the perfect cover letter.

Never heard from them.

It’s just as well, probably. I was a little terrified about the pending fight for hierarchy between two generations of chimpanzees. The organization has a no-intervention philosophy that might have been difficult to stomach once the young chimps realized their power over the older alpha male.

I continue to keep an eye out for animal jobs that I’m either qualified for (precious few since I’m neither a vet tech or a fundraiser) or that won’t have me sobbing every time a new rescue is brought in. Imagine my excitement when this headline popped up:
Need Someone to Help Babysit My Pet Dinosaur

Who wouldn’t want to work with a dinosaur? I clicked through to the job description to find this:
You didn't really think I had a pet dinosaur, did you?

If you’re smart enough to know better than that, you’re already ahead of my idiot staff. They just can’t seem to understand how to perform basic tasks and get to work on time. So I am going on a hiring/firing spree.
I need competent individuals who know how and are willing to do their jobs. I will pay top dollar and full benefits after a 60-day probation period.

Pet dinosaur or not, who would want to work for this subhuman?

But yesterday I at last found my dream job: Exercise Rider. Here’s the ad:
Exercise rider needed to gallop Thoroughbred racehorses. Must be experienced galloping Thoroughbred racehorses and weigh less than 125 lbs.
The cover letter would be easy to write; the in-person proof-of-experience could be a harder sell:

1. I’ve never been on a Thoroughbred, but I spent many childhood hours with Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Arabians. I could fudge it.

2. It’s been 20 years since I weighed 125 pounds. Even if I could fool the stable manager, I couldn’t fool the horse.

3. I’m often gravity-challenged. That is, I fall off. I’ve never been afraid to get back on the horses and I’ve never blamed them for their participation (bucking, rearing, stepping on me once I’m down) in my embarrassment. But this might be the deal-breaker when competing for the position.

Sigh. Another perfect job slips away from me before I can even apply for it. But I’ll keep looking.

Maybe next week some multimillion-dollar stable here will need a “Horse Petter.” In fact, I’ll write my cover letter now so I’ll be ready.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lifespans and Libraries

“Libraries are the only place on Earth where you can find immortality. They are the collective memory of humanity.”
—paraphrased from Temple Grandin’s Thinking in Pictures

[Photo from Curious Expeditions of the National Library of Saint Mark’s in Venice, Italy.]

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Caught in Death’s Undertow

Our move to the South was spurred by my father’s declining health. He’s battled cancer for about 10 years and now faces the last stretch.

I anticipated keeping an eye on him—encouraging better eating habits, overseeing his meds, accompanying him to doctor appointments—and my husband anticipated working on art projects with him in the small barn behind my father’s home. We both looked forward to deepening our relationship with him.

But we came too late.

My father’s confrontation with the Very Grim Reaper is unfolding at breakneck speed. He has spent the past 1-1/2 months focused on his funeral and his legacy. It’s kept him busy certainly, but at the expense of the quality of life he’d planned for. Instead of taking short driving jaunts to the countryside and mountains, he’s been steeped in the minutiae of his funeral and the sale of his home after his death.

There will be no art projects—my father’s stamina is depleted. My hope for “better eating” has given way to “eating something” for my father has no appetite. Driving jaunts* will soon be out of the question as my father’s mobility deteriorates.

I’m in charge of the funeral service, for which I’ll create a program and deliver a eulogy. If my father had his way, both would be complete by now and in his hands for approval.

But I can’t bring myself to write eulogies for folks who are still alive—especially folks I’m close to. That time is precious and seems better spent in the present.

And so, dear readers, my writing on Lull continues to be sporadic. I’ll try to share tidbits and info worth your exploration, but longer posts will have to wait.

* My husband shot this pic of the Natural Bridge—one of many gorgeous spots in this state—on a recent outing with my father. Note: My father napped in the car while we hiked. He LOVES the comfortable leather seats of his minivan and would furnish his living room with them if possible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Still Slogging Through Wonderland

A month ago, I needed something light to read and chose the adventures of Alice because:
1. We had a copy of it.
2. Our move to a new state had taken dreamish twists and turns not unlike Alice’s fall down the rabbit hole.
3. Embarrassing to confess, I’ve never read the original book.

However, our copy is a 1960 annotated edition, which makes it visually irritating (sometimes there are several pages of explanation in wee type without a word of actual story on them) and laborious to read.

Some references are helpful—for example, those that expound on unfamiliar (to me) customs and terms of Carroll’s England. But it’s not light reading. I don’t recommend it. Even the editor opens his introduction with this sentence:
“Let it be said at once that there is something preposterous about an annotated Alice.”

So why do I continue?

Maybe for the same reason a one-time marathoner finishes the race hours after his/her competitors: just to finish. To see a challenge through to the end. To persevere.

Also, I’m hoping to retain some of the factoids in case the subject of Carroll or Alice or 19th-century England ever surfaces at a cocktail party or in the Kroger checkout line. I like to be in-the-know, you know.

“Wipe your glosses with what you know.”
—from Finnegan’s Wake, by James Joyce

[Illustration by John Tenniel.]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Am I Blue?

This painting by Franz Marc embodies much of what’s been on my mind of late: horses, oppressed artists, Nazis, Resistance Fighters, Poland, funerals, careers, fear, and reading. I’ll detail each of these items later. But for now, just enjoy the geometry of a work that Hitler deemed “degenerate.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

Going to the Dogs FOR the Dogs

Am I the last one to see this video from OK Go? Besides promoting the band, it also spreads the word about dog adoptions and rescues. They filmed it in one take! Read the story in New York magazine. [Double-click on the video to see it full-screen via YouTube. Sorry.]

My Day with Rambo

Many moons ago, my yet-to-be husband and I stepped into a movie theatre to see what was supposed to be a Katharine Hepburn flick. Instead, we were treated to mayhem and bloodshed, compelling me to make a hasty exit.

My partner, of course, reluctantly followed but would have preferred to see what turned out to be the first of the Rambo franchise. Alas, we saw neither a Hepburn nor a Stallone movie that day.

Fast-forward to this weekend, when I became a huge Rambo fan.

If you’re a Lull regular, you’ve probably guessed that my favorite pastime next to being with animals is reading about them, which is how I met a quite different and endearing Rambo yesterday. He’s a Jacob ram—aptly named for his charging finesse—and just one of the many unique personalities cherished at Catskill Animal Sanctuary (CAS), a New York refuge for farm creatures.

In Where the Blind Horse Sings, CAS founder Kathy Stevens profiles some of her wards and her mission to educate people about the atrocities of agribusiness. It’s a charming, breezy read laced with humor and bursting with love.

If you’re craving soul-lifting news, stick your nose in Where the Blind Horse Sings. It’s sure to warm your heart—maybe even give you a new perspective on animals some folks know only as entrées and shoes.

Loka samasta sukhino bhavantu.
May all beings, everywhere, be happy and free.

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