A Teachable Moment

This is home, where chaos is the norm. Well not really. I spend a lot of time getting things in order and in my opinion Liam and Guinnie and Precious spend their time getting my attention.

This morning I was out looking at trees and Liam wasn’t invited. He peed on my boots – which I had put out but not on. Guinnie gets all the dog beds, stray shoes, well, they become stray, shirts etc out into the hall or in the dog yard. Often then that allows Liam to pee on them. They are a team.

I spend a lot of my time talking to people about animals, their animals and the scope of the woo-woo animal mind. I listen to animals, I listen to people. What difference I notice is the dogs and cats I communicate with are more general thinkers. They tend to see larger pictures even if they are discomfited in some way by the circumstances they find themselves in. That’s a big difference in style and substance from people, who from what I hear, are often taking everything personally. Including the animals they live with.

In my experience animals don’t see themselves as victims of their fate, that would be taking it personally, as if they’d done something to cause it. They look out at their environment and see it for what it is. They may not like it, they may love it, they may get attached to it either way, but they don’t eat themselves up with guilt about it. When an animal attacks itself they are usually reacting to stress in their environment, not beating up on themselves.

In my household of intense, over-mental humans the animals work hard to keep us distracted from grinding away at our thoughtful inhibitions that keep us away from the really important task of connecting with the world. They see our intellectual grinding as cause of distress, and they do their best to help us.

Sitting on my lap as I write is Pachi who has tried many times to take over this blog.

She has spent her finest hours making sure I do things on my own without the help of the vase or the bell, that pesky cup or the ridiculously overpriced sofa. She is a master of the moment. Now nearly seventeen, weighing under five pounds (her top weight was 5 pounds 7 ounces) with hips that I know are stiff has flown out the door, risen on her two legs to challenge the two stray male cats who have been hanging around. I had to run after and suffer scratches meant for the Toms to bring her around to my sensibility – I will never convince her to be anything other than who she is.

So when you call me to talk to an animal, don’t think they’ll roll over and do as you ask. They’ll have a lot to say, but “yes ma’m” is unlikely. In the course of their lives they’ve learned and seen a lot. They appreciate love and everything you do, and, as Precious is doing right now tearing around the wool chair that looks like a jungle-gym, they most want to remind you to be here now. In that they are like bells we don’t have to ring, they remind us of the loftier goals we talk about and need help maintaining.


I love this poem from W. H. Auden


Wandering lost among the mountains of our choice,
Again and again we sigh for an ancient South,
For the warm nude ages of instinctive poise,
For the taste of joy in the innocent mouth.Asleep in our huts, how we dream of a part
In the glorious balls of the future; each intricate maze
Has a plan, and the disciplined movements of the heart
Can follow for ever and ever its harmless ways.We envy streams and houses that are sure:
But we are articled to error; we
Were never nude and calm like a great door,

And never will be perfect like the fountains;
We live in freedom by necessity,
A mountain people dwelling among mountains.

W. H. AudenIn Time of War XXVII (1938)

Body Art

I remember in third grade being the only one who didn’t know a certain song – that Everyone knew. And it was that same year that Linda Varney asked me to touch her tongue with mine at the drinking fountain. I did. She said I was the only one who would do it. She’d asked around. And then some years later someone said they’d give me some money if I asked the bio teacher what was missing in the crotch of the mannikin on her desk. I got the money.
I cannot tell you how many such incidents filled my school years but, yes, I was ready to try stuff.
And when I got my 4 x 5 camera and wanted to try it out, well there I was, wasn’t I? So I held it out as far a my arms would go – they aren’t all that long – and click. Too shy to ask someone to model, I guess. Remember I was on the doing side, not the asking. Asking is a life-long task – a thing confounded. The wallflower in me craves the wall.

Start with a shot, then go for it.

Flying The Coup

This morning the dogs did what they have been studying and wanting to do for some time. For two years they have watched Cho hop the fence. Easier for a Galgo Espanol than a couple of muscled Greys and a chunky Jack.
I’ve noticed Guinnie looking at Cho and moving her body, cocking her head – looking to my human eye like she’s trying to figure it out. Jules runs after Cho as he scales the fence, all bark and teeth. Jules wants to stop him or at least not have to see him. But I thought I saw him doing some stretching exercises yesterday – maybe last week, too. Cho just looks at them like he’s the Man. He looks at me that way too when I try to outrun him barefoot in the morning dew. He just dances up to the fence and pops over. Done.
Well this morning I saw them all fly over while I was making tea. They sailed across the fence and out into the farmer’s field hardly stepping on the muddy ruts – hope that means their feet won’t be so muddy.
I couldn’t believe I was seeing Liam in such a leap – he was airborn! Mouth open, ears flying, the only Jack Russell to have scaled such a height. All his back was muscled and his hair flying in the wind of his creation. It was a beautiful sight. And the greyhounds were only a little in front of him. Not the leaps and bounds behind he usually is. What an amazing spectacle they all were. They flew around above the house – taking Cho’s line of “whaddya going to do about it?” to new heights before they took off to parts unknown.
Well luckily I have a friend with a small plane, called him and he’s on his way. We’re going to get up to a few hundred feet and see if we can see them and where they might have gone.
To be continued….

Forgotten, Unforgiven


Those Little White Things

Im in pain, you helped me
I want a buzz, you helped me
You brought your friends with you
And they helped me get through
But that was at first and now i dont want you

I think of you always and the rush you made me feel
It was more about that when the pain wasnt real
But now you’ve latched on and its just me and you
You make me feel normal and keep me happy too
But thats not enough when i think of what you’ve put me through

Iv tried to go without you and i felt like i was dying
I didnt realise it was you and how hard you were trying
And now your inside me and youve latched on so tightly
I have to visit you early, daily and nightly
Why to you hurt me? And push me? And fight me?

I know i should leave you but im scared of what you might do
I left you for a day and i barely pulled through
The crying and screaming and psychosamatic sickness
I never thought you were capable of doing this
Why do you do this? WHY DO YOU DO THIS?

I know il be free from you some day soon
But for now il still visit you up in my room
Your ruining my life and you dont give a damn
Your name is Tramadol 100 milligram

Dean Ingham

I went on a site called poemhunter to see what was there. I saw this poem right away and was the first to view it. The poet was born on May 1st 1990. I am awestruck by the clarity of his statement, the rhythm of simplicity and wholeness that is at the heart of his message. I wonder what I would think if I saw him passing by, wanting to date my daughter (one of whom is his age), taught him – what would I be thinking? Would I ask him if he had any poetry to show me?

It’s something to think about. Isn’t it?


What’s a Dream

in rehearsal, wearing a maskPaula Josa-Jones

Many times in my life I’ve had a dream where I’m at the wheel of a car or a boat and it’s speeding towards something and I have no brakes, or I need to get out of There and I have no accelerator.  Ever been there? I also have the dream where I have a gun and the “bad guy” is coming at me and I can’t shoot – for whatever reason, I’m just not pulling the trigger. Been there too?

We all have dreams – things we want to do and have, fears we won’t, can’t get It. Like first day of school dreams or paper due, I find myself never knowing where I am, where I’m supposed to be – all that.

Some of the reticence we have is to keep us from jumping off cliffs, even when many others may be going down that path. Containment structures are not all bad – what keeps us polite is a good thing, what holds us back may not be.

It is really important to have quality control in our lives. Not just for what we consume, but for what we put out. The extreme is taking the quality out of control and holding ourselves back – fear is usually the driver there. A form of fear is comfort. We all know how hard it is to get out of a big over-stuffed armchair. It often feels like it’s imprisoning us in some weird way. A job can do the same thing. Is it too easy? The other people great to work with? Politically correct? These very proper and good things can be holding us back from our passionate selves, from what we really want to do because what we really want to do is scary.

Here’s the main rule: what you really want to do is always scary. It’s the biggest form of “calling the shot” that I can think of. When I was a kid I did a lot of target shooting. In my family no one cared what you hit, no one called a shot. I went shooting with a friend’s family and they asked me, “what are you aiming for?” I didn’t say it but my answer would have been, “whatever I can hit.”

Not a high aim there. No putting myself out. But in time I said what I was looking to hit and if I hit it I noticed I felt better and the praise or “better luck next time” I got wasn’t such a big deal. I am grateful to them and for their care of me, which often included what I took for criticism.

Just a slight tweak of words brought me a vehicle for self-esteem. The same as any sales pitch – whether it’s online or in an interview – a gesture, a choice of words and you are in or out. That starts in your mind-set – your head, your thinking process. The first rule here could be, “don’t believe everything you think.” And, most importantly, believe in yourself. Believe that you have something to say, to give. Then go for it.

The Mutt of Life

The other day I got a certificate in the mail. I had completed another course, had another few letters after my name if I chose to put them there. I don’t choose. My pedigree is extensive with gets and begats and doesn’t begin to express who I am or how I got here.
It’s not that the cum laude isn’t important, but the laurels pale in relation to the ground they grew in and on. It’s my experience and what I do with it that ribbons me.

We are all a mixture of genetic and experiential inputs and impulses. Every thought dictates our next action, every action dictates our results. If I let my certificate, whatever it says, dictate how I feel about myself I might as well hide behind the pedigree and be done with it.
The walk of my life needs a path and the path needs dirt and rocks. I mustn’t forget that. The days of exasperation spent in pursuit of my highest goals are the soles of my feet and the strength in my heart.
“…once you fully apprehend the vacuity of a life without struggle you are equipped with the basic means of salvation.” Tennessee Williams, “The Catastrophe of Success.”
When I look at the pulsing path of my life I don’t feel the triumphs so much as the friends and the songs. The sometimes riotous music of my peers and the eras I’ve experienced.
Part of the air I’ve breathed has been the expression of those around me. Virtual and actual. I remember how good it felt to add Bucky Fuller as one of my mentors though I never knew him or met him. Ditto John Cage.
It was a revelation to be free of my immediate influences and enter the world of possibility.

Someone To Watch Over Me

There is something elemental in our need to be seen. We’re hard-wired for it. We need it, we want it and we give it back. My dog Cho and I stare at each other. A nod across the room tells us we’re connected. A smile on his lips leaves a smile on mine. He counts the smiles back and forth as I do.

It’s not about anthropomorphizing so much as that we are both predators and it’s what we do. We’re hard-wired. Last night the moon was getting full and it was bright enough to wake me. Cho was up too. The thing about being human was that I happened to have my iPhone near me and, wanting to know more about the moon, I looked in the APP store for information about the moon.

So now I have this cool and beautiful moon on my phone. It tells me how far, how big, how much illumination, moonrise and moonset, and compass information that I do not understand. It also tells me random facts – three at a time. Of course I want more.

What Cho knows about the moon he won’t say. I think what he knows is actually not insignificant and he is happy to share space with me – here space and there space. We curled up in the bright light and told stories until we fell asleep.

When I was very young I was lucky to have someone who let me wake her up to go look at the moon. She would hold me up to the window in the bathroom where I could see the moon shining over the Missouri River. It was as beautiful a sight as any there is and my appreciation hasn’t waned since I first saw it.

The connection with the moon is older than I can imagine, it’s close and far – enough to make my head spin. Man in the moon, green cheese, gold, silver – it doesn’t matter. Both Cho and I know that the moon is there, it just is. And that’s enough.



Sometimes people ask for fidelity when they want perseverance. It is after all the workhorse of fidelity. It is the truth behind the truth.

Perseverance does not take everything personally. It does measure worth while waiting to see what happens next. In my experience it takes the world and what is said with a grain of salt.

There is something wonderful implied in perseverance. It is faith. Starting at the top – the Me in all of us, is focussed on my own actions, my own goals and the expectation I throw out into the world passes through me first.

Often when we look at our partner’s actions and find they fall short – the question could be, “short of what?” Our expectations, of course, I know that. But I can forget it as well as anyone. I can forget that in a moment of frustration I expected more of someone than I ask of myself. I can forget that I was too fast with my thoughts and turned to words before I understood them myself.

Perseverance is seeing through that. Loving the self and the other no matter what. Letting go of the Count; you did this when, I do so much, I always, you never. That sort of thinking is faithful only to the pivot, the back turned. It’s what we see in the media, it’s what we believe is “cool.”

What’s really cool is being there, hanging in, taking the plunge, staying for the finish. I’m not talking just about two people in relationship. I’m talking about the honesty with which we live our lives. About the face you see in the mirror. Is it a face you can love? Has it been cared for?

Don’t give up (on) yourself – ever. Give yourself a break – always. Keep to your goals and expectations of yourself – always. Start with compassion, end with compassion. Ask yourself if this is what I want. Is this who I want to be, am I where I want to be.


The flowers are getting sparse. The spiders are working overtime, as are the wasps and hornets. Their time is up. They go out with the flowers.
Shortening days, my darker time is coming. Actually it’s been here since June 21st but I didn’t notice – it was summer, light seemed forever. Night came just in time to catch me so I could gather enough energy for another day.

Now the gathering is done by all the Beings whose nests must serve as pantries. The birds and deer have to get by with what’s left on the bushes and trees – which is why I’m happy to see so many apples and pears out of my reach.

There are some things I can’t fathom the use for. I’m as glad to see these as the pears I cannot reach. Not fathoming something, not knowing means I can keep going. Means I can delve and play, follow a line, an arc, a mood. There’ll be more of that now. More for me to deeply witness because there’s less to see.