A Recent Letter

In my role as a communicator – all creatures, animals, your forebears, mine – I sometimes receive a letter. Since most are not handwritten – or written at all – I don’t have much trouble with interpretation. This most recent missive is from a dog.

By the way, I was going to write about the world situation, politics, ethics, (now, there’s a word that hasn’t risen its head for quite some time!) the beauty surrounding us this autumn, but I kept making draft after draft, never getting it quite right. And then, when I was looking up, I got this letter. I’m not sure whose dog it might be. I’m doing some research on that. In the meantime, see if it strikes a chord.

Dear my Now person with whom I live and to whom it might concern,

Why did you bring me here and what do you want?

Who are you? Perhaps I should have asked that first. Perhaps I should have had you fill out a form but I don’t know how to make one. If I were you that’s what I would do, I would make you fill out a form and then I would teach you how to sit up straight and beg and roll over. I wouldn’t show you off to anyone, that’s too embarrassing for anyone, even a human being. But first I would have you fill out a form. Now, back to you, why did you bring me here? Why weren’t you better prepared? Didn’t anyone tell you what it was like to be with a dog? I know you would use the expression “have a dog” but I don’t like being had. I like being with. I don’t know what you like. I don’t think it’s being with because you leave me all day and ignore me all night so, back to my question. Why? Why am I here? Why did you put me on a plane and drive forever to get me and drive forever to put me in this place you call home. I don’t know what home is. I never had one before. I always heard they were what every dog wanted. A home was what we dreamed of back in the kennel. We never thought of it in the wild, on the streets of the wild. We only were told about its existence when we were taken to the kennel. We thought it would be better than the kennel, we didn’t like the kennel much because it smells bad and the light is harsh. But we didn’t have to fight, that’s a relief, and we got food. When I think about it now, from this place you call home, that I have to call home – whatever that is – the kennel had some nice parts. People for one. People who were cheerful and I could tell they were doing their best, whatever that is. But I learned from those who were doing it that “best” means a smile even though it switches to a worry face as they go by. When they see me they smile and sometimes I smile back. I’m big on sharing, it’s something we did in the Pack. Being here, I’ve learned to appreciate that. Even though it’s not so smelly here and the light is better. I miss the smiles in the kennel. I don’t even know where the kennel is or whether I’ll ever see it. I don’t know whether I’ll ever see the happy face on the counter or the bowl of what I learned to call treats by the desk where people talked on the phone. I found out the phone is very handy. You can do all kinds of things with it and if you use it enough all sorts of things happen. Is that how I got here? Back to why am I here? Was it the phone? Back to my question. What do you want? Why did you come to get me? Why did you make such a big deal, drive hours and hours with that determined look on your face. I assume you looked like that before I was in the car. You certainly look like that now! Maybe I caused it all. That’s a terrible thought. This is truly a bad situation. What am I doing here? Why do you want me to be here? What do you want me to do? What do you want to do? How are we going to manage this? Didn’t they train you before you came to get me? Didn’t anyone tell you anything about what it would be like. They treat you like a saint, but you’re not. I won’t say I like the smell of the street wild or the lights and I won’t say it wasn’t confusing, but I learned things there. I learned where to go and who to trust – well, for the most part. I don’t know who to trust here and there is no place to go, no place to learn the ropes and no one to learn them from. Let me repeat, “Why am I here? What shall I do? Where is there for me to go? I saw you writing on a form they gave you to fill out at the kennel, what did you say? What do you know? How does it relate to me? What do you want? Why am I here? Why did you bring me here, all those miles, in that traffic, how did you decide to do it? Why did you decide to do it? What did you decide to do and what can we do about it?

IMG_0917

Liam Three Months Out

IMG_5565

You can tell me that grieving takes its own sweet time. I’ll tell you its not necessarily sweet, although its not always sad and wrenching. And that it pulses. Sometimes I feel like my food processor – lots of stuff put in and I’m supposed to turn on and find what to do with it. Find the correct blade and carry on.

As I write this my dogs have set up a howl. And I have joined them. Writing can only get you so far. Howling will do the rest. The greyhounds have a keening sound, high and deep in the throat. They sound when I’m not joining up properly. Now, as I’m writing, and even though my door is open, they know my mind is elsewhere. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find their minds filled with Liam. Images of him are rampant. Not just because he was a favorite subject for me but he was in all our faces – literally. Jules could never even start to walk out the door without Liam attached to his face in some very noisy way. He is downstairs as I write moaning and whining. He will not come up the stairs. When I “bring” him up, he might stay a minute but, unless I close a door or gate, he runs down to his bed. He is a simple, complicated dog.

Liam was straightforward, upfront, in your face. He could be subtle, I loved his tame look when he was abashed and wanted to be with me but wasn’t sure he could go – mostly he could. And, unlike most JRTs he would do what I asked even if he didn’t want to. He had another look for that. In all he was a dog of many natures, many gifts. There wasn’t a person who didn’t want his/her hands on Liam. I have many photos like the one above with everyone reaching toward him as they interacted together. He was always within reach.

I wish he was still.
Jules just came in and lay down.

A New Year

 

IMG_0534

 

Sadie is an intense, loving, somewhat stubborn dog – the perfect companion. Quiet – much quieter than a mouse – she sits in the back seat of my car exactly where I put her and stays there until I ask her to get out, which she does with reluctance.
Minus looking at me, right now she is curled a few feet away, back to me, but looking like all the photos I’ve been taking of her recently as part of a photo challenge my friend Joan gave me. I’m not good at challenges, can’t remember how many days or what words – not a great sense of time. But I’m good with space. The challenge got me to another space – Space – that of looking at black and white again. I grew up with color all around me but photographs were black and white. As a BW photographer I tended to see shades of grey/gray. Digital photography came as my lungs were telling me to get out of the darkroom that had become my home for so long. But it wasn’t satisfying. The first digital – in my opinion – neither captured color nor nuance. I spent a bit more time in the darkroom beyond my time and I painted.
Even though I’m not completely won over, I do see more of what I care about in the digital images I create. I’m beginning to actually like it and plan some shots around what the camera and some basic manipulation (I’m not a friend of photoshop) can do.
Very grateful I am to the challenge I received – I’m looking to the new year to go further and see what happens. I love exploration, I love not knowing what anything will do. It’s the truth anyway – we know nothing beyond this moment.
So back to my future I go – in this moment and the next.
May you all have a Happy New Year, many great moments – in fact, may you see every moment for its greatness and may every moment give you a sense of its greatness and your own.

Enter This Life

“Just come back more as you are!”

Was what one of my teachers was told when she trekked to Japan to meet an abbess with a question about her own re-birth.

Startled and speechless she entered her three month retreat with the fulness of her being and continued just as she was – as she is.

Here is something for all of us. No matter what. It’s about belief, faith and acceptance.

Just be yourself. No matter what.

Need help? Ask your companion animal.

20130830-155609.jpgHAVE A GREAT DAY!!!!

 

Earth Day

DSC00212_HDR

 

Earth Day: The History of A Movement

“Each year, Earth Day — April 22 — marks the anniversary of what many consider the birth of the modern environmental movement in 1970.

The height of hippie and flower-child culture in the United States, 1970 brought the death of Jimi Hendrix, the last Beatles album, and Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Protest was the order of the day, but saving the planet was not the cause. War raged in Vietnam, and students nationwide increasingly opposed it.

At the time, Americans were slurping leaded gas through massive V8 sedans. Industry belched out smoke and sludge with little fear of legal consequences or bad press. Air pollution was commonly accepted as the smell of prosperity. “Environment” was a word that appeared more often in spelling bees than on the evening news.  Although mainstream America remained oblivious to environmental concerns, the stage had been set for change by the publication of Rachel Carson’s New York Times bestseller Silent Spring in 1962.  The book represented a watershed moment for the modern environmental movement, selling more than 500,000 copies in 24 countries and, up until that moment, more than any other person, Ms. Carson raised public awareness and concern for living organisms, the environment and public health.

Earth Day 1970 capitalized on the emerging consciousness, channeling the energy of the anti-war protest movement and putting environmental concerns front and center.”

Today, call it Earth Day or anything you like, is a day just like any other. It is what we – each one of us – makes of it.

Morning Poem
by Mary Oliver

Every morning
the world
is created.
Under the orange

sticks of the sun
the heaped
ashes of the night
turn into leaves again

and fasten themselves to the high branches—
and the ponds appear
like black cloth
on which are painted islands

of summer lilies.
If it is your nature
to be happy
you will swim away along the soft trails

for hours, your imagination
alighting everywhere.
And if your spirit
carries within it

the thorn
that is heavier than lead—
if it’s all you can do
to keep on trudging—

there is still
somewhere deep within you
a beast shouting that the earth
is exactly what it wanted—

each pond with its blazing lilies
is a prayer heard and answered
lavishly,
every morning,

whether or not
you have ever dared to be happy,
whether or not
you have ever dared to pray.

 

Mamacita

 

DSC02095

We keep our eyes on our feral cat Mamacita. We house her in a heated abode and when she doesn’t want to sleep there, we make sure there is another choice – also heated. Perhaps the wind is coming from the wrong direction, we make sure she has choices.
Her water dish is heated and refreshed regularly. Her food is offered room temperature and fresh. She allows us to pet her most of the time. This has all taken about four years.
When she is here we feel relaxed, part of a larger whole. We pay some of the same attention to the birds and other, what we call creatures, that we live with and around. We have the ability to think we make their life better and we depend on that.
When Mamacita is elsewhere – we don’t know where – we are on the lookout. Somewhat uncomfortable in our skin. Is she OK? Will she come back? Did something eat her? It can be an internal (interfamily) struggle sometimes – one of us says keep her thinner so she can run fast and another may say she needs to be warm and able to go days without food if that were to become necessary. But no one of us can resist her face at the window, so she is fed generously.
She has given us three kittens and we have given her the end of her motherhood in a moment of neutering – where it was assured she would never be tamed. We think it may take a bit more time and we think she will be inside with us one day. We are not (collectively) sure if this will be a great moment in our history!
In the meantime, we lean on her for our self approval. And when she doesn’t reject our care, when she takes in our nurturance, we are so happy and feel so blessed.
DSC02101

 

 

 

How to be Your Best Friend’s Best Friend

Last night a dear friend texted to get help with her brother’s dying dog who happened to be the sibling and litter mate of her own dog. She was worried about her dog as well as her brother’s and wanted to know how they were handling what was going on for them all.
When I went to speak to Sugar, the dog whose death from cancer was imminent, I got a huge wave of concern for my friend. I called her immediately and heard her confusion in what the focus of concern and help should be.
She had a lot going on, the death and possible pain of Sugar, the chance that this could happen to her own dog and her own concern for herself and her brother. A lot of emotional threads.
I think this is the thing I really do in animal communication. I listen for the threads and put them together in a way that soothes the humans involved. The vet had told them Sugar was not in pain, Sugar told me another story and said that this pain was not a big deal, she was ready to die and be away from the discomfort and, yes, pain that life was bringing her now. She was ready was her main theme.
Actually the most impacted was my friend’s dog who was apart from her, she is a nervous dog to begin with and her companion was emotionally torn and confused. Dogs can stand a lot. They have a resilience that boggles our minds and hearts. They are patient and forgiving beyond our wildest imaginations, but it is hard for them to have the people they look to as their chief focus be overwhelmed.
One of the best ways we can help our companions is to take a break, a breath, a walk. Do what they want for a few minutes a few times a day – walks, treats, a little panting never hurts. It could change us into being the humans they treat as if we already are.
DSC00034

Just Right

DSCN0565

 

Dear World,

AKA: Universe, My World, What I Want.

Let me roil and thrash with attitude. Let me appreciate all the smells. Let me revel in the autonomy of the day, of night, wind, rain – all natural constants.
Let no other intrude upon me when I need to make my own way.
Let the sky fall wheresoever it will.
Let me appreciate its landing and my place in it.
For this and every other thing I know or don’t
For all above and below, side by side, tethered and free
Let it Be. Let it Be.
Within me the light is strong and the time is here. Now.

Thank you.
HP0014

What Can The Center Hold

 

the small me is wrapped inside the big me
a core keeping me me

it’s full of what I noticed in my childhood
it’s rooted in what I cared about and who I love(d)
the part of me that’s the part of me that’s not parted
still here, necessaries and extras wrapped and seated

apple cores have seeds (we generally throw them away)
paper towel rolls have cardboard cores (we generally throw them away)
same for pineapples and other fruits
the structure and the seed go into the midden
making it a rich and succulent place