Archive for November, 2009

Peace on Earth, or I guess I Don’t Own That Anymore

November 24, 2009

I’m relaxing this morning at the Lodge.  My escape has been 
for the time catching up on all seasons of The West Wing: intelligent, well written and a nice diversion from the real world. Although I must say it is still earily topical, on point with  a remarkable sense of prescient timing.

It’s not yet Thanksgiving and the Christmas tree is up, all six stories of it, and the holiday decor abounds.  An elegant selection of music specific to the season – currently as I write, “what child is this” plays in the background.

And I think about my computer being stolen.  It happened recently while I was visiting out of town relatives.
Do you have any idea how difficult it is to be a writer without a computer? I was old school once upon a time with a typewriter and a less than graceful hunt and peck method to serve me. 

Several books and scripts as well as other projects on commission later and the tool of my trade is nowhere to be found, thoughtfully misappropriated by someone who must need it more than I.

I should be really upset. It has been an interesting year.  I think this is a minor test of our ability to be measured by our ability to rise when we stumble, fall, or overcome obstacles.  Or someone’s idea of a joke.

I’m disappointed.  Myself a card holding member, I’m at a loss for words when it comes to understanding the human race.   I want to have faith in the good I believe to be out there.

White Christmas is now playing. I’ll allow the music to have its soothing effect on me, just as the good knight sir Congreve recognized it does for us, savages all.

Peace on Earth. I’d like a little of that to bless us all. Maybe compassion and tolerance and understanding might come with it, and along with these noble truths, the sense to know right from wrong, and the strength of character without tilting to make those choices. Whomever has my computer; take care of it. It was new when I got it and still has that “new car smell.”
Peace on Earth.


A Dog Has Died by Pablo Neruda

November 19, 2009

This piece is too beautiful not to share.  My thanks to Mark for the timeliness of its arrival.  We find ourselves in timeless moments of awe when something speaks to our soul and resonates with a voice all its own.  This piece does that.  Let it speak to you and let your spirit soar.


My dog has died.
I buried him in the garden
next to a rusted old machine.

Some day I’ll join him right there,
but now he’s gone with his shaggy coat,
his bad manners and his cold nose,
and I, the materialist, who never believed
in any promised heaven in the sky
for any human being,
I believe in a heaven I’ll never enter.
Yes, I believe in a heaven for all dogdom
where my dog waits for my arrival
waving his fan-like tail in friendship.

Ai, I’ll not speak of sadness here on earth,
of having lost a companion
who was never servile.
His friendship for me, like that of a porcupine
withholding its authority,
was the friendship of a star, aloof,
with no more intimacy than was called for,
with no exaggerations:
he never climbed all over my clothes
filling me full of his hair

or his mange,
he never rubbed up against my knee
like other dogs obsessed with sex.

No, my dog used to gaze at me,
paying me the attention I need,
the attention required
to make a vain person like me understand
that, being a dog, he was wasting time,
but, with those eyes so much purer than mine,
he’d keep on gazing at me
with a look that reserved for me alone
all his sweet and shaggy life,
always near me, never troubling me,
and asking nothing.

Ai, how many times have I envied his tail
as we walked together on the shores of the sea
in the lonely winter

of Isla Negra
where the wintering birds filled the sky
and my hairy dog was jumping about
full of the voltage of the sea’s movement:
my wandering dog, sniffing away
with his golden tail held high,
face to face with the ocean’s spray.

Joyful, joyful, joyful,
as only dogs know how to be happy
with only the autonomy
of their shameless spirit.

There are no good-byes for my dog who has died,
and we don’t now and never did lie to each other.

So now he’s gone and I buried him,
and that’s all there is to it.

Translated, from the Spanish, by Alfred Yankauer

Ladybug and the art of Rescue and Adoption

November 16, 2009

It’s been a week since my world lost a beautiful little girl.

This may strike some who do not have animals of the four legged variety in their life as a bit much, but most of you will completely understand.  It struck me as I endeavored to let people know, people like her vet, and people who knew her and looked forward to her affections whenever they came to visit.  There was genuine sadness at the vacuum of loss.

I thought about how she had been someone else’s pet, and then someone else’s, and that she had been chipped, and when found, the last owner of record had said they had given her away but didn’t really want her.  Until the evidence proves otherwise, I believe micro chipping is a great resource for both two and four-legged creature.  I am also a believer in rescuing animals.  They cannot help their place in life and how they wound up in that place.  I tell people if they are looking for a specific breed of animal to go to the shelter or contact a rescue.  From the smallest to the largest you’ll find the creature you’re looking for.  I promise.

And a rescued animal knows.  They know they’ve been given a second chance, or third.  And while it sounds a bit sacharrin-tinged, their wants are short list:  They want to Love, they want to be loved, they want to feel safe, and they want it to happen in their forever home.  I have begun the process of looking.  Not as a replacement, but because I know the world is filled with creatures looking for a single chance to prove to a human they are the perfect companion.  The shelters and rescues have them all: puppies, kittens, younger dogs and cats, and older senior animals.   I met several older animals, one seven, one nine, and one 11.  And they’re beautiful.  Everybody wants a puppy or kitten without fully understanding the work involved.  Many people don’t go to shelters and rescues because they either don’t think of it or are working off misinformation on the  conditions of a shelter or facility.  I’m not telling you how to spend your money when it comes to our companions and friends of a furry nature, but you are removing a wide spectrum of options and doing a tremendous disservice to yourself and the animal.  I have met several animals in the past week who have displayed every sort of wonderful temperment from energetic to laid back.  Shelters and rescues benefit from the time donated by volunteers who come in to assist in basic care but also to walk and exercise the animals and to spend time with them training them.  These animals by and large have a tremendous aptitude for learning and for wanting to please.  A wagging tail says it all.  I believe they know what might happen if they don’t find a home.

Ladybug was my little girl, and as a four-legged child she was better behaved in public than a lot of two-legged children.  A close friend of mine asked me if I thought it was too soon to look for another animal; I needed to give myself time to mourn.  Another mentioned that this would give me the opportunity to enjoy my free time.  Time is something we have and share when we’re wise about it.  Time is the sense of knowing we have done something right and can be pleased with the outcome.  Time is the blank slate the Creator has given us to make the world a better place, and leave it better than we found it.  I have of late spent considerable time wondering what I can do to make my world and the world in general a better place.

Ladybug was a rescue.  When she came into my life she was an older rescue.  She had been a stray wandering the streets.  Everything I wrote about her in the last post was absolutely true.  She was sweet with every animal she ever met, even for a short time fostering a small clutch of tiny baby possums, who slept pressed against her stomach as she herself slept curled around them.  Ladybug was gentle in every aspect except eating.  She ate like she was starved, but she liked food.  Who could blame her?

To those concerned, I am going through my period of mourning, I assure you.  The tears still readily come when not called when my mind drifts to her.  I had to toil through the effort of vacuuming the house recently because I found tufts of her hair and as silly as it sounds, I was concerned I was banishing all evidence of her presence.  And in a gesture that might seem certifiable to some, I have set out her water bowl. In case she’s thirsty she’d have something to drink.

I have been touched by those who have read about Ladybug and shared their own heartbreaking stories of loss.  Her memory lives in my mind and her energy lives in my heart.  Saying goodbye to her was one of the hardest things I had to do in a long time.  As I touched and caressed her and comforted her in her transition I believe it brought some small measure of relief to us all.  And I know that for her to say good bye it was even harder because she wanted to leave the world as she found it: a world filled with Love and affection and hope.  In those moments she was not alone, nor were we.  I cried the whole trip back, alone with my grief.  There is so much I miss about that beautiful little girl.

All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful:
The Lord God made them all.


November 7, 2009

I had planned to write another response to USA Today’s recent article once again eviscerating the General Aviation community.  That article will have to wait.

The Unexamined life is not worth living.  This I believe:  this statement not only applies to ourselves, but those around us.

I lost my little girl  Ladybug yesterday.  Lady was a Golden Retriever who had not met a human who didn’t immediately fall for her.  You hear that sort of thing all the time from doting pet parents, but ask anyone who knew Lady and they’ll just silently nod their head.  With us was her mom and our dear friend Vicki.  A comment on Vicki – she is always the calm in a storm that is life and it has to be an exhausting effort to generate the energy she does to care and love her husband, son, and those who are fortunate enough to be covered by her umbrella of warmth and compassion.

When I was told I needed to get to the facility in Maitland if I wanted to see her before she passes I didn’t allow the internal turmoil to interfere with my outwardly stoic appearance at work – or so I thought.  Thing is, people have been aware of things going on in my life for a while, but I do like most.  I keep the walls high enough and thick enough to keep everyone out.

But this last bit of news would force me to rendezvous with my emotions.

I arrived and told the front desk I was there to see Ladybug.  When I walked in to the room she was on the floor, devouring a huge bowl of a delicious looking pasta dish Vicki made especially for her.  Lady was extremely food motivated, and I believe with enough motivation she would recite the Greek alphabet if there was a worthy enough gastronomic prize waiting.

I sat down and began to rub her coat.  Still so soft and luxurious.  She turned to look and see who was touching her and the recognition and joy was unmistakable.  And then she returned to the task of finishing the pound or so of pasta and vegetables.  She managed well despite the enormous mast cell tumor that had grossly disfigured her beautiful lips and face.

Except for bathroom breaks, I spent several hours touching her or rubbing her mane, or massaging her muscles.  She had a mild stroke a couple of years ago and I had taken to doing deep tissue on her joints every morning before I left for work.  It became a ritual for us just as she would come to me to get a good fifteen minute rub under her chin before going to sleep for the night.

Some things non-pet owners should know about our pets:

We love them.  They keep us.  They are moody, and social, and sometimes anti-social, but never complain.  They comfort us because they know when we are down or ill, and they love us in spite of our treatment of them.  Their Love is selfless and sometimes unrequited.  We recognize that having them in our lives is a lifetime commitment.  And all they ask in return is to be kept safe, because they’ll keep us safe, and to be fed, and most importantly, this one thing:

The last time they close their eyes and go to sleep, they want to be able to see us and hear us, and know that we will be there for them, because it is a difficult and uncertain journey to leave such a life behind.

When the doctor came in my heart began to race.  I looked at Ladybug and saw her chest slowly rising and falling as she lay there as relaxed as royalty being attended to.  The doctor explained the process, and a part of me wanted to say, “no, there has to be another option.  There has to be some other treatment we haven’t tried.”  But I knew that we had tried everything, just as they had.  And her body had become too weak even for the chemo.

Afterwards the doctor hugged us both.

“It never gets easier,” she said, with tears in her eyes.  “But we should be as lucky to pass on surrounded in our final moments by those who love us.”

I continued to rub Lady’s mane.  Her eyes were closed, I had facilitated that partially out of fear of not wanting to stare into lifeless eyes, and partly because I wanted to believe she was still gently asleep.

The trip home I cried like I have not cried in years.

Last night my dreams were filled with her.  She was fine and running and happy.

I awoke much earlier than normal and the first thought that filled my head was of every time I had been impatient with her.

She was never impatient with me.

The thought provided a valuable lesson.  We should aspire to become the people our dogs believe us to be.

Ladybug – We Love You.