Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Seasonal Surprises, Seasonal Dividends

now visited us today for the first time. Fleetingly. It left before I had time to get excited about it.

I wonder if the rain, which has pelted us nonstop for days, was as tired of itself as we were of it and decided to try a new look.

Or perhaps the snowflakes, confused by the glut of Christmas decorations displayed since October, raced here today for what they thought was a late entrance. Realizing their mistake after materializing, they disappeared.

Either way, I’m happy to be sans precipitation this afternoon. I’m grateful for this lovely long Autumn of the Bluegrass—for being able to dress in layers rather than hauling out the thick woolens, for being comfortable enough to sit in the yard enjoying a book and hot tea, for the slow departure of color giving way to a splendor of texture in the form of nuts, berries, and seed pods.

“Good heavens, of what uncostly material is our earthly happiness composed—if we only knew it! What incomes have we not had from a flower, and how unfailing are the dividends of the seasons!”
—James Russell

[S from Industry.]

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Would You Like That Fried, Lightly Fried, or Deep-Fried?

Stranger In A Strange Land – No. 21

Today is the Gobble Grease Toss in the Horse Capital of the World. When I first learned of this annual recycling event, I thought it was a joke. Just as I had once thought that the barbed comments made about Kentuckians loving fried foods were gross overgeneralizations. Turns out I was wrong in both instances.

If restaurant menus are any indication, fried is the preferred cooking method—from the tomatoes on a BLT to every last bit of seafood. So it should not have come as a surprise to me that frying the turkey on Thanksgiving is as common here as watching football. Hence the Gobble Grease Toss.

As I’ve written before, the recycling opportunities this city offers its residents are commendable. It couldn’t get much easier, which is why I don’t understand why more people don’t recycle. A faulty mindset, I suppose.

Anyway, today the city encourages folks to dispose of their leftover cooking oils and grease in an ecofriendly fashion. If I had any grease, I’d be there.

This is part of an ongoing series regarding my transition from the Land of Lincoln to the Bluegrass State. For a list of previous articles in the series, just select Stranger in a Strange Land from the right of Lull, under “Choose a topic that interests you.”

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving Plenty: The Food that Binds

Thanksgiving 2010 seems like yesterday to me. From his deathbed, my list-making, eternally instruction-giving father supervised the kitchen proceedings. In his hyperspecific way, he detailed what he wanted on the menu and from which restaurant I was to procure it.

At first, I was crestfallen: No home-cooked holiday meal? Then irritated: I wasn’t fond of the food at the restaurant he’d chosen. And embarrassed: The “restaurant” was a CHAIN!

But how can you not fulfill the wishes (or demands) of the dying? Upon reconsidering the situation, I realized the upside: If my father didn’t like the food, it wouldn’t be my fault. Grateful for that, I decided to add a few homemade dishes to the mix as backup—if not for my father, for my husband.

As it turned out, the massive quantities of food from the restaurant languished in the refrigerator while my father repeatedly requested the corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin pie I had made (without his instruction) in his kitchen.

I was secretly happy about this, though not just because the homemade won out over the chain restaurant. It felt good to be able to provide some pleasure to my father’s difficult days and sustenance to his deteriorating palate. It was especially meaningful—to me, anyway—that those particular dishes represented a host of Thanksgivings past, recollections permanently attached to my childhood and happier times. The time before the losses—the deaths and the divorce. Those dishes were traditional to our family’s gatherings, and now I had connected my father’s final Thanksgiving celebration to a sunnier, familial reminiscence.

Today I’ll be making pumpkin pie, corn pudding, and sweet potato casserole again. I’m grateful for the role they played in last year’s meal, and I take comfort in the memories they conjure that I will continue savoring for many years and meals to come.

May Peace and Plenty be yours this Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

May You Have Enough To Share…

Pre-Thanksgiving Ponderings

If you watched My Life As A Turkey last week on PBS, you may be having second thoughts about putting a bird on your holiday table this year.

That’s just what the folks at Catskill Animal Sanctuary hope. Pictured above is Henrietta (the feathered one) and her best friend Atlas. Clearly, farm animals have big personalities and bond as strongly as their two-legged keepers do.

I’m thankful that CAS liberated Atlas, not once but twice.

[Read Atlas’s story or see videos and more pics of him.]

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Failed Volunteer Awaits Her Fate

Two days passed after my volunteering debacle at the Humane Society. I knew they still needed help that week, and I knew I was only on the standby list, yet a sinking feeling continued to weigh me down—a feeling that I’d been deleted from the volunteer roster.

Then my phone rang—they needed me!—and I was off to the land of abandoned and lost pets.

I assumed I would be helping the staff catch up on the routine work left undone by fundraiser preparations; I assumed I would be folding letters and stuffing envelopes. But, of course, you’ve already guessed what confronted me upon my arrival: the dreaded paper cutter.

“Ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness.”
—Malcolm Gladwell

This round of paper cutting was for a different fundraiser and this time I wasn’t The Fixer. This time I would be the first volunteer to muck up the job.

I tried to take a positive approach to my assignment. I thought of Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, his book about attaining expertise and success. Research shows that it takes about 10,000 hours of doing anything—playing chess, painting, boxing, composing, building, singing, drawing, editing, sculpting—before you can master it. Though I harbored no dreams about becoming a master paper cutter, I had every intention of improving my skill set.

I’ve 10 hours behind me, and I don’t know how many hours ahead…

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Follow Your Bliss

“[W]e should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.”
—E. B. White

[Photo shows E. B. White with his pooch Minnie.]

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Rock, Paper, Scissors: A Flustered Volunteer Spends a Day with Her Inadequate Self

For reasons I won’t go into, I’ve not been able to be on my feet. Which means I’ve not been able to walk the dogs at the Humane Society, which has plagued me with guilt lately. So when an opportunity arose this week to perform office tasks for the Humane Society, I jumped at the chance. In fact, I offered to spend the entire day there.

Preparing for Volunteering
My day started badly before it was even time for me to get out of bed. My neighbor was awake before the sun peeped out, already enjoying the company of her visiting relatives. I know this because the building we live in has paper-thin walls and flooring with no insulation. If I couldn’t sleep through the party, I had no choice but to start my day.

As I putzed around the kitchen, trying not to disturb my husband’s slumbers, my husband was suddenly at my side holding out my phone to me. Ah, yes. I’d put my phone in the living room when I got up, but I’d failed to turn off the ALARM feature. As quiet as I’d tried to be, I’d pestered my husband out of sleep anyway. Profuse apologies on my part as my husband padded back to the bedroom.

Plenty of time lay ahead of me before I had to leave, time enough to cook a hearty breakfast. This part of my morning went fine until our newly installed smoke detector sounded off.

“Fire! Fire!” cried the robotic female voice. “Emergency!”

Bloody Hell. Now everyone in the building was surely awake. I opened the windows and fanned the sensitive contraption with a broom.

Again, my poor husband emerged from the bedroom and said, “If you wanted me to eat breakfast with you, you could have just said something.” More apologies on my part.

Finally, it was time to go. Actually, very nearly past time. I was careful to pack a lunch, snacks, and anything else I might need over the course of the day. Made it as far as the car before I realized I’d forgotten the glue sticks. Had to return for them since I’d promised to bring my own. (The Humane Society glues envelopes closed and the kind of glue they had the last time I volunteered was messy. So I thought I’d use my own glue sticks for faster, neater work.)

Now I had to WALK (which I was not supposed to be doing) all the way back to the apartment to find the sticks, which naturally roused my dear husband from his dreams once more. Arrrgh.

I made it to the Humane Society in time. Despite the rain, and despite the driver of the impaired scooter who had traffic crawling the pike.

I settled into my “office space” (i.e., the kitchen) at the Humane Society and tried to ignore the equipment set out on the table. I assured myself, THAT’s not for me. I’m going to be folding and stuffing or sorting and filing. THAT thing is someone else’s project.

Of course, true to the tone already set for the day, the Volunteer Coordinator tells me the “thing” (a paper cutter) is, indeed, my tool for the entire day. I considered leaving right then.

Should I Stay or Should I Go?
I’m serious.

I felt stuck in that proverbial spot between the rock and the hard place. If I left, I would be letting down the organization. If I stayed, I would likely let down the organization. Memories of past battles with similar tools flooded my consciousness while I dithered about what to do.

For the record, I have a range of skills. Some I excel at and wish someone valued them enough to pay me handsomely for: reading, editing, proofreading, public speaking, creating and streamlining processes and procedures, trouble-shooting and problem-solving. Some of my skills I use only at home—they’re serviceable but not good enough to share: playing the piano, flute, and djembe, cooking, gardening. Then, there’s the list—by far the longest—of UNskills: the things I cannot, and should not, do. Among the infinite items on this list are using a paper cutter, using an X-ACTO knife, using scissors, drawing anything.

Displaying Team Colors and Humiliation
Eons ago I toiled as a proofreader and copy editor for a marketing agency. Sometimes, at the end of the day, one department or another was frantically putting the finishing touches on some project that FedEx was scheduled to pick up at any moment. To this cluster of activity I usually offered my assistance, which usually entailed copying, collating, sorting, or packaging. However, one evening, I offered assistance to the design department.

A graphic designer set me up with a cutting mat, a straightedge, and a knife—tools of his trade at the time. He instructed me to cut out the ads from the galleys. It was easy—no measuring necessary. I simply had to line up a ruler with the crop marks and then knife out the excess paper. I knew the routine. I’d watched my precise, architect father do such a thing thousands of times. But I also knew my limitations and asked the designer if there wasn’t some other way I could help.

I got that “look” from him—as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, as if I was insincere about wanting to help.

I caved. I said of course I would cut the ads. You see, I had garnered a certain amount of respect and admiration from my colleagues at the agency for my editing skills and my design savvy. I was held in esteem and I didn’t want to jeopardize my reputation.

With laser focus and a determination to excel, I began cutting. Cautiously. Too cautiously, probably. From the top crop mark to the bottom one, I removed the excess paper and turned the ad to make the next cut. At this point, I apparently lost all track of time. The graphic designer returned to my side, expecting to collect five finished ads from me yet seeing that I’d accomplished next to nothing.

He inspected my efforts. And he was kind. “Hmmm. Let me show you an easy way to do this.” He fixed my jagged edges and talked me through the next cut. I thanked him for the step-by-step instructions, and he stepped away.

He hadn’t told me anything I didn’t already know. But knowing and doing are two entirely different things, aren’t they? I could get from Point A to Point B easily enough, but the route was never the most direct. And the results were less than satisfactory, which I could easily discern. The curious part of this clumsiness is that I’m agile in other arenas: music, dance, theatre. Why, oh why did straight lines elude me?

When the graphic designer checked my progress the next time, his face lit with alarm and pity. “You really can’t cut straight, can you?” I shook my head in shame. No, I really can’t.

Doomed to Disappoint
Fast-forward to my day at the Humane Society. Not only was I expected to cut out HUNDREDS of small rectangles of paper (with NO crop marks as guides), but half of the rectangles had already been cut and mucked up by other volunteers. I was brought in as THE FIXER!

Oh My Dog! Could this be worse? I tried to explain my cutting track record, but was told to just do what I could. Which I did. But it was a miserable way to spend 7 hours.

The staff at the Humane Society is warm and friendly and appreciative of all volunteers. Each one thanked me for the tremendous work I was doing. Many of them remarked on the monotony of the job and what a trooper I was to put up with it.

Ha! Little did they know. Work can’t be monotonous when every moment of it challenges your skill sets and composure.

A couple of things kept my spirits up, though. First, two of the resident cats kept me company throughout the ordeal. And second, and more important, the paper rectangles I was cutting were slated for use at an upcoming fundraiser—the black-tie Beastie Ball—the Humane Society was throwing. My ego could withstand a hit or two on behalf of homeless pets.

I’ll recover my dignity soon enough. The question is: Will I ever again be asked to volunteer?

[All vintage art from The Graphics Fairy.]

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Blue Jay Chronicles: An Addendum

“There’s more to a blue-jay than any other creature. … You may call a jay a bird. Well, so he is, in a measure—because he’s got feathers on him, and don’t belong to no church, perhaps; but otherwise he is just as much a human as you be.”
—from “Jim Baker’s Blue-Jay Yarn” in A Tramp Abroad, by Mark Twain

After reading up on Jays, I started putting out one of their favorite foods—raw peanuts in their shells. I hoped I was feeding Stubby in addition to The Trio, but I could never be sure. (Did you know that a Blue Jay can carry up to 5 acorns in his/her mouth and throat?)

Since the hawk incident, during which the juvenile Trio behaved like hooligans, the birds have flown under the radar. The week we had The Visitor was apparently a week of transformation in our yard and at the feeders, and we missed it. Once The Visitor left and we resumed our routine of nature-gazing out our front windows, we realized the mad industriousness of collecting and storing food for the winter had subsided. Even activity at our feeders had declined. Not only had The Trio departed, also absent was The Stubster—as well as dozens of sparrows and cardinals.

Then one morning I found Blue Jay feathers scattered under the feeder. I don’t know who made the attack, but my bet is on one of the many felines our neighbors allow to roam. I haven’t seen The Trio since.

Until yesterday! Of course, I don’t know if it’s the original members of The Trio or The Trio with a replacement, but it was great to hear them again in the backyard.

(The cat—or, rather, the cat’s person—is still on my grudge list, though.)

[Photo by J. Andrzej Wrotniak; art by Charlie Harper.]

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo, NaBloPoMo—MeNoDoTho

If you’re wondering why some of the blogs you visit are strangely behind in posts, it may be because the blogger at the helm is participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Every November, countless writers start or work on a novel. Their goal: 50,000 words in 30 days. As Haiku Farm blogger says, “50,000 words. One of them is bound to be good.”

Or not.

Other bloggers are taking the NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) challenge by posting something every day.

I’m doing neither. My “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” (as the NaNoWriMo slogan goes) are being spent reading. The time traveling I spoke of earlier this week has landed me squarely in WWI England and 1880s Paris, peeking into the fictional and nonfictional lives of Mary Crawley (we finally watched Downton Abbey), Katherine Mansfield, and Charles Ephrussi.

I’ve no good excuse for my absence from Lull. But I’ll make it up to you. So keep checking in. Or just sign up for Lull to come to you by way of e-mail.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I’ll Be Back

Sorry for the quiet here on Lull. I’ve been time-traveling.

“Reading is a discount ticket to everywhere.”
—Mary Schmich

Saturday, November 12, 2011

So Happy Together

Recently, I read a short memoir about the horses a writer had grown up with. Clydesdales, they were. And her father brought the first one home—the one he’d fallen in love with, the one who started his obsession—in the backseat of his Cadillac convertible.

I SO wished to see a photo of that!

Just now, looking for something else, of course, I happened upon this next best thing:

This is Jim Sautner with his special pal Bailey, the unexpected antidote to his loss of a previous best friend. Click through to read their charming story.

On A Personal Note…

Sorry, Sister Dearest. You can’t escape it. As John Glenn said, “There is still no cure for the common birthday.”

Hope yours is a stellar one today!

[Cake from We Take the Cake.]

Friday, November 11, 2011

11 Words for 11.11.11

Today is 11.11.11. To add some flare to the rare numerical element of the day, some writers are constructing ministories with just 11 words. Here’s mine (and it’s true—at least, it’s how it happened in my dreams):

The Proposal, Part 1

After cohabiting for 60 years, he asked me to marry him.

What would a story be without a sequel?

The Proposal, Part 2

I smiled. “We should wait to see if we’re really compatible.”

[Art by Marc Chagall.]

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Blue Jay Chronicles: A Stranger Lurks

One sunny September afternoon, I headed up the road to visit with a neighbor. It was a glorious day and I was trying to take it all in—memorize the newest crimsons creeping out from the trees, the whiff of crushed acorns on the sidewalk, the warmth of the sun hitting against cool air. My reverie was short-lived, however.

A cacophony rose ahead of (and above) me. It was “My Trio of Blue Jays,” as I’d come to call them, and they sounded for all the world like their world was coming to an end. I shifted into alarm mode. Were they in danger? Had one been injured? I planted myself on the sidewalk and scanned a nearby tree for answers.

Finally I saw the object of their displeasure: a hawk (likely, a kite). Not a big one. Not much bigger than the Jays anyway. But a hawk nonetheless, and he wasn’t a bit afraid of the Trio. They hounded him (er, rather, Jayed him) around the tree branches. Never once actually touching him, they took turns shrieking louder and louder and faster and faster; they flapped their wings and jumped up and down and all the while, the hawk looked nearly bored.

“Really,” I thought I could hear him mutter. “Is this quite necessary?”

I’m not certain how threatened the Trio really felt. Their comic antics may have just been something to do on an otherwise dull day. Sometimes, you have to create your own joy.

[Top pic from Fall Foliage Web site; bottom pic by Heather Pickard.]

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

If You See It, Report It

No animal should have to wait this long for a knight in shining armor (in this case, Catskill Animal Sanctuary). If you see something that looks wrong, report it. Then follow up, and report it again.

Double-click on video if necessary for full viewing.
Or read the media coverage.

See what you don’t want to. It’s the right thing to do.

Art in Defense of Libraries and Their Treasures

I meant to post these pics long ago. Today is as good a day as any, I suppose. Enjoy.

Earlier this year in Scotland, sculptures started appearing in libraries. In the Scottish Poetry Library was a “poetree,” with a tag reading: “It started with your name @byleaveswelive and became a tree. … We know that a library is so much more than a building full of books … a book is so much more than pages full of words. … This is for you in support of libraries, books, words, ideas … a gesture (poetic maybe?)” The paper eggs were lined in gold and contained cutouts that, when properly sequenced, created “A Trace of Wings” by Edwin Morgan, Scotland’s national poet.

The National Library of Scotland received the gramophone-and-coffin with this tag: “A gift in support of libraries, books, words, ideas … (& against their exit)”

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Experiencing A Disconnect

On my reading docket is a collection of Katherine Mansfield short stories. It’s my first foray into Mansfield’s work and after consuming a bit of it, I needed more context. Who was she? Where did her characters come from?

When I was scanning book titles at the library’s 2-for-1 sale, I noticed Journal of Katherine Mansfield and without hesitation scooped it into my stack. When I opened it the other night, this passage popped out: [Caution: It’s funny at first glance, but becomes tragic the longer you think about it. Read fast and don’t think!]

I positively feel, in my hideous modern way, that I can’t get into touch with my mind. I am standing gasping in one of those disgusting telephone boxes and I can’t ‘get through.’

“Sorry. There’s no reply,” tinkles out the little voice.

“Will you ring them again—Exchange? A good long ring. There must be somebody there.”

“I can’t get any answer.”

Then I suppose there is nobody in the building—nobody at all. Not even an old fool of a watchman. No, it’s dark and empty and quiet . . . above all, empty.

Can you relate? I know I can.

[Portrait of Katherine Mansfield by Anne Estelle Rice.]

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The Blue Jay Chronicles: A Cappella Trio

As I wrote earlier about our Blue Jays, they returned to our feeders this Autumn after a long summer hiatus. Or perhaps, more correctly, a new batch of young Jays had discovered our feeders, for they seemed new to the world and their feathers had neither found their proper place on their bodies nor reached the saturated blues that prompt their name. Their little head crests were usually resting flat when they were feeding, meaning they were comfortable there and not on high alert.

I can’t say with certainty how many Blue Jays we’ve been watching, but three of them hang together in our yard—all about the same age, all jibbery-jabbering with one another wherever they go. When I tell people about them, the first response I hear is, “Jays are mean.”

Well, I haven’t seen it. In fact, I’ve seen our three little ones intimidated by other smaller birds at the feeders, or else stand their ground without flinching, but they’ve never bullied anyone else away as do the sparrows. There are studies that bear this out. (Of course I did a little research.) Only about 1% of Jays in the studies showed any kind of random aggressiveness—stealing eggs from other birds’ nests, attacking other birds, eating other birds and their offspring.

I turned to an older reference. While The Visitor was here, she bought me a reproduction of the 1904 Field Book of Wild Birds and Their Music by F. Schuyler Mathews. It contains black-and-white drawings of songbirds PLUS piano notation of the songs. I realize the Internet provides audio clips of birdsong, but for me, the notation makes it easier for identification. Some songs are too similar for me to hear the distinguishing characteristics; with notation, it’s obvious. I looked up Blue Jays in this century-old guide to find the birds categorized, basically, as mean. So I don’t know if Blue Jays used to be mean and have evolved into kinder, gentler creatures, or if their bad reputation is merely myth. I chose to follow our little trio’s comings-and-goings with no expectations of behavior—no pigeon-holing, as it were.

One afternoon as I sat in our backyard, the trio flew into a tree and bush next door. They took turns squawking that well-known Jay cry. At first I thought they were pursuing something—or being pursued. Then I started laughing because they were SO LOUD and SO INCESSANT that it sounded like a contest. Which Jay’s cries were the loudest, the longest, the most frequent? They upped the ante with each new shriek.

Then a car pulled up into the parking area near them, windows down and some kind of hybrid hip-hop-pop music blaring. I was irritated because I expected the trio to scare and move on.

Instead, the Jays stopped squawking and stayed put. The driver turned off the engine but not the radio. More irritation on my part. What the heck was that driver up to? Either silence the car and get out of it, or go away.

Then I heard it. The trio started vocalizing again. This time, though, two of the birds sang a note similar to the squawk but at a deeper, fuller pitch sustained at a moderate volume. They sang together, alternating repetition of the note sometimes once, sometimes twice in a measured cadence. And above this percussive alto flow sang the third bird in a soprano tune of six notes. They were actually harmonizing! I was so astonished I didn’t have the presence of mind to record the concert.

I’ve read that Jays can mimic other birds’ melodies, but that’s not what my little trio was doing. They were riffing off one another, inspired perhaps by the hybrid hip-hop-pop. They were creating their own syncopated, chord-embellished composition.

This little concert is now one of the wonders of my world—no less special than the ancient pyramids or the Grand Canyon. It could have been the opening to one of those old Coca-Cola commercials:

“I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony …”

In an era of distraction and dissonance, we do well to cherish harmony wherever we find it.

[Top illustration by Josh Brill; other illustrations by Charlie Harper.]

Art and Animals: A Winning Combination, Inside or Out

This is the first thing I saw when I opened my browser yesterday:

I started to share it with you yesterday, but didn’t because as I was trying to determine the story behind it, I got mired in discussions of whether it was Photoshopped, whether the horses were receiving decent care, and various interpretations of the setup. The photo has been around the Internet several times in the last nine years and is currently enjoying a new round thanks to … oh, I don’t know—some content aggregator’s desperate need to entice us to stay on its site, regardless of how old the news it circulates is.

Regardless of the circumstances, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It stoked my imagination. First and foremost, having my own field of horses is a huge pipedream. But beyond that, I started noodling about how I could shelter my herd in a similar fashion.

There’s always the traditional run-in shed with a twist: My husband would delight in building several à la various architects or styles—Frank Lloyd Wright, Antoni Gaudí, Santiago Calatrava, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Or I might choose nothing but varying styles of jumbo lamps (Tiffany, Noguchi, Mission) or oversized chairs (Eames, Biedermayer, Stickley, Mackintosh). My ideas also ran to huge sculptures of all the animals I’ve shepherded to the afterlife over the years: the pooch, the cats, the canaries, the baby bunny, the fish. Could all look like folk art or maybe painted according to different artists’ styles (Pollock fish, Klimt cats, Dürer bunny, Edo-period birds, Koons pooch). All the animals I’ve loved together in one place. How fabulous would that be?

Anyway, here’s the pic. Where does it take your imagination?

[Furniture by Jens Braun; photo by Jens Meyer for AP.]

Friday, November 4, 2011

Build a Better World for Yourself, One Ritual at a Time

As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been having trouble shaking a case of glumness. Then I found this photo (couldn’t verify the photographer) and decided it looked like a great first step to take: Vent. Whether venting frustration, joy, fear, or that wild sense of brain chaos indecision can cause, let it rip full-throttle from your innermost heart and cells.

In fact, it’s probably a good step to take more than once. I believe I’ll turn this into my personal ceremony for exorcising darkness and reconnecting to what matters.

“When you’ve nothing else construct ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.”
—from The Road, by Cormac McCarthy

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Finally, A Little Good News

In the last couple of months, my reading has randomly uncovered one sad story after another, many of them about losing the one creature the writer (or one of the writer’s remaining animals) had the strongest bond with. Needless to say, I’ve been a little weepy.

I don’t seek this kind of darkness. It somehow finds me and peels away whatever gossamer layer was beginning to encase my own rawness.

But today I stumbled upon a 2008 blog post from Mugwump Chronicles that warmed my heart. I bet it will do the same for you. (Just click through the link.)

[Pic from DesktopNexus.]

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Día de los Muertos

Mosaic by Rebecca Collins.

Walk for Old Dogs This Month

As the number of companion animals increases in this country, so increases the number of elderly animals abandoned and surrendered. These are the creatures most often overlooked at the pound, the creatures some folks are even repulsed by. Why? Depends on the person.

A greying dog for instance, isn’t pretty enough for some people—not fast enough or playful enough or shiny enough. The dog may suffer from a skin condition or tumor or scarring that mark it in a distasteful way. The dog may be blind or deaf or movement-impaired, all demerits in the eyes of the repulsed.

But what these people fail to see is the inside of such animals. They still have heart and desire to please and the need to be loved and cared for. These are the animals some specialty advocacy groups aim to serve (like Old Dog Haven mentioned earlier on Lull). They’re looking for people who are willing to provide a comfortable home for senior companion animals, be it for a few weeks, months, or years. A place where these animals can spend their last moments showered with affection and proper care. (See the earlier Lull post, “Seeing Dogs As Individuals,” about Sarge the Elderbull.)

To attract awareness to the plight of homeless elderly canines, November is Adopt-A-Senior-Dog Month. In honor of the occasion, The Grey Muzzle Organization, a fundraising charity that supports senior dog advocacy groups, is hosting an event anyone can participate in. It’s the Virtual Old Dog Walk. You can walk for real, walk in your imagination, or while lounging at your computer. You can ask friends and family to support your walk, or you can just make a donation yourself. The event mascot is Thomas (pictured here; I think he and The Spotted Thing could have been good pals).

Please click through the links to see the good work The Grey Muzzle Organization is doing with very little money. Imagine how much more they could do with our help.
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