Posts Tagged ‘pets’

oh, Sam

Nobody was too happy today when I arrived on the other side of our hill to do some work.

It’s where Sam, Dog of the West, lives, who is my Boyfriend (we’ve had words about the paw on the boobs, for example) and Posterdog for Goofballness.  Sam was a picture of dejection today such as I have seldom seen.  Apparently he got a bad scratch on his side and had to be taken to the Vet as a result,  from whence he emerged wearing one of those big cone collars animals get to keep them from messing up injuries.  He didn’t even come to give me a kiss, and I saw him crouching between a fence and an outbuilding, with cone and forehead resting against the wall.  Shoulders totally dropped and nose down in abject misery.   This is about the first time he’s had this major sort of consequence- he got ‘fixed’ and that didn’t phase him one bit, and also a fight with the other dog who lives here left him with a bit of an eyescratch but nothing much.  Usually Sam is just smiling and happy and lovable if you don’t let his largeness, big paws, and jumping get to you. But this!  I don’t know if he thinks he’s being punished, or if he’s going to die, or what, but he is not taking this at all well.   I do hope he will be back to his customary bounce and joie de vivre soon, but it did make me think about all the other animals whose paws and claws I’ve held in similar circumstances.  Usually they’ve all either come right up to me or dashed by with very specific communications along the lines of HELP!  Some have had reactions to medications, had new fellow pets in the home, gotten chewed up in unfortunate kennel visits, and a few have even had cancer.  There’s often the thorn in the paw or the flies on the face, but there has always been a very clear and specific request and for the most part, successful treatment.  Animals are often a WHOLE lot easier to work with than humans.  In this case, though, Sam seems to be acting just like a person in terms of feeling the unfairness of it all.  And, insult to injury, a cone to wear!  Leave me alone!

The question then is, what do you do when there appears to be a need but you are not invited to deal with it?  This is a pretty crux-like thing as it turns out.  Help can so often be either something that makes the other person (or dog, of course) feel as though there’s something wrong with them, something that must be “fixed”.  It can also be someone doing something they simply need to apply to their own lives.  It can be, I think, something that comes out of an operational base of power, and not love.   Timing is everything in this, just like it is in everything else, and in order to be truly of use and service one has to, in a sense, step outside of clock time and into the other kind of time, which is more about what it actually takes to do something.   So even if you know what might be a good thing to do, if the time isn’t right and the situation not receptive, it isn’t the right thing to do.

I don’t know how the injured Sam came together in my tiny mind with Bruce Lee, but there it is.  We watched the movie about Lee’s life yesterday, and the Partner remarked that one reason Lee had conflict with other, local, older martial arts schools was that he taught fighting before philosophy.  In a traditional setting, you practice blocking and living the philosophy before you ever really fight,and the point of it is to avoid fighting if possible- especially since the consequences can be very serious.  The Grand Masters were individuals who knew ALL the schools of kung fu, which made them essentially pretty intense guys- who’d be crazy enough to fight somebody who knows all THAT? So it’s a long training in observation and what not to do, along with training yourself to have that observation be a reflex that informs your actions and guides you.  Less is more, actually.   One result of this shift in approach was a lot of fighting without the conceptual framework, and in only one manner depending on where you studied.  The conceptual framework learning is something everybody who’s tried to learn anything has struggled with.  But without it, you wind up executing actions that don’t resonate and aren’t proper.

I recently read, somewhere, that warriors and healers walk the same path and I think that is actually true.  In looking at Sam, I have to see that although I may “want” to “help” him, that isn’t what is needed in the moment based on his behavior and wishes.  I may think I know what he needs, but that may not only be irrelevant but untrue as well.  He may need another school altogether, in short.  The same thing goes for being a warrior.  You may indeed want to smack someone into another galaxy, but it’s not always the correct thing to do.  You may want to learn how to fight and defend yourself, but without a framework of observation, practice and understanding, you won’t accomplish anything beyond muddying already dark waters.   It all takes time, more than we in this culture feel we have to devote to anything. Which explains, I think, why Bruce Lee took the tack he did, in an effort to increase knowledge and awareness in a way he thought might work.

It does just take a lot to know what to do at any given point, especially when so often there ISN’T anything to do right then except watch and wait.  It’s a whole different way of life, based on responding to the environment you’re in and not reacting to what you think it is.   Everything takes on a different dimension, and although there is always that moment when the hill you’re climbing turns out to be a giant turtle’s back and you slide off in a completely different direction than you started from,  the habit of paying attention does pay off.  It pays off because even when you’re flying through the air off that turtle’s back, you are able to see that, really? You’re going to land in a much better place.  I’ll see if I can explain that to Sam later.


doing the right thing

It’s surprising how complicated that can be, the right thing stuff.  For example.

If we’d taken in all the dogs people drive up on this hill and callously abandon after removing their collars, we’d have a troupe by now.  Hound was notable last summer.  Eventually the Mexicans across the road took him in, and he found another dog friend to lay in the middle of the road with.  He also maintained order with an iron paw:  No late night barking was tolerated, coyotes be damned.  He’d raise his bellowing bark above all of them, but me no buts and bark me no barks.  It was amazing.  They’ve all disappeared from that house, but maybe he and they will be back.  He really was quite a charmer, even if he looked like a compulsive gambler.

Now there is another dog, a bull terrier mix.  (I am a sucker for bull terriers as it happens- once a devilishly charming girly terrier caught my eye while crossing a street.  Apparently both our heads swivelled and her owner, an intimidatingly gorgeous woman, said, Jeez.  Say Hi, you two. She’s never done anything like this before.  WHO ARE YOU?  It was all over from then on.)  When our newest refugee looked me in the eye, advanced over to the deck, and proceeded to lick my hand while wagging his tail like crazy, I felt myself slipping over the edge.  I love dogs, in fact I love animals, period.  However, among all the zillions of things I’m allergic to, dogs are way up on the top of the list.  We simply cannot, at this point, take on another mouth to feed (chickens and ducks to come, but postponed), and the Affordable Care Act does not cover veterinary costs.  I’ve explained this dismal fact to the parrots and they’re cool with getting essences and tinctures in their water bowls when indicated- they were never crazy about going to the vet, anyway.

But back to the newest lost soul.  It’s complicated in a way.  All the strays wind up at our place because our landlords have no fences and no gates on a 20 acre property.  There’s absolutely nothing there to eat, no grass or lizards since their horses have flattened things pretty much.  So everyone toddles over to our round blue house, which seems to be pretty much a sanctuary for all.  It turns out we’ve had an orphan baby jackrabbit living under the greenhouse arrangement in the garden, and the deer are still camping out off and on below the abandoned swingset on the hill.  The Partner just saved a baby gopher snake.  We saw two bright yellow finches eat seeds for 40 solid minutes yesterday:  a lemon balm plant full of dry seeds waiting to fly out in the air.  Fly they did, into two tennis ball sized little birds who tottered off into adjacent branches to do some burping and preening.  But again, the newest lost soul.  I am amazed at the perfidious awful heartedness, or lack thereof, that makes someone take their PET, for heaven’s sake, and dump them in the wilderness.  Who would do something like that?  At least if taken to a shelter, there’s possibility and it’s got to be better than running from coyotes and mountain lions while freezing.  Some of the dropped off dogs have been shot, according to the message board by the mailboxes.  So, when I looked into the beautifully outlined eyes of this nicely temperamented little dog, I found myself torn.  One piece of me wanted to immediately find whoever did this and inflict soft tissue damage with pliers.  Another piece of me wanted to say, oh the heck with it, time for a dog.  Another piece of me shrivelled up thinking, huh! You can’t even save an animal, much less do anything bigger to shift the balance of things- you don’t have the resources AND BESIDES WHERE’S THE KLEENEX MY EYES ARE SWELLING SHUT.  Then I thought: This is the crux, isn’t it?  The Partner and I find ourselves stuck, often, with unpleasant cleaning up sorts of tasks here because other people refuse to do what I will just refer to as: the right thing.  It sounds weird, yes, but it is true.  Abandoned pet rabbits, lost cows, sick horses, broken machinery all over the place,  trespassers and renegade pit bulls from the other side of the ridge, you name it.  How can that be?  You shouldn’t have things you cannot, or will not, take care of, whatever they are, and what you have should be taken care of.  Getting tired of paying attention to your animal companions is no excuse- what’ll these fine folks do with children? But in a world where on the TV news you get treated to the sight of people being shot dead by snipers and falling into flames on the street in Kiev, I suppose it’s not hard to see that if humans aren’t worth anything in this world, probably animals are not going to fare too well either.   Anyway it remains to be seen if Newby will stay with our landlords or wander off.  Or if we’ll have to bite the bullet and take him to the local shelter.  And who knows if that would be the right thing to do, either.  Plunged into confusion by a stray dog, bottom line.

Thoughts of upcoming exotic squashes and melons, Florence Fennel, Ramsons (beloved by bears- possibly a mistake but we’ll see…), tomatoes and sunflowers and vegetables oh my! make me giddy with happiness.  We watched Tyrant perch on top of our Spruce tree at our front door, squaring his shoulders and looking around swivelling his head and open beak, waiting for interlopers, and saw a magnificent hawk fly across a pasture.  Finally finishing our canning and preserving from the past year (just in time for….well, we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it), our blood orange/tangerine/meyer lemon marmalade came out really well.  This is the joy of the universe, for sure.  Sometimes it’s hard to square the seemingly eternal standoff between what we may call “good”, and what really does seem to be “evil”.  Whether we understand them or not, those energies are always moving around us.  The question, as always, is what is to be done?

Pictures and words

Without further ado, Gentle Reader, I give you:


Toad Two, aka Medium.  This was taken on a day where he lounged on this wet towel atop the small swamp cooler, as if resting from some enormous exertion, for about 24 hours.   We were starting to be concerned until he made an almost baby goat like leap straight up in the air, and then over to the lattice on the wall.  Show off.  At this point, 2 was a bit larger than an inch.  Toad One, aka Tiny, was almost invisible at one half inch, and Toad Three, the Large, was like a regular size frog.  Exciting stuff when they all played musical whatnots with the various buckets and jars we have around the kitchen.  Toad Two has grown a LOT, as I see each time he surprises me.  You would think with my emphasis on pattern recognition I would have made some surmise when I saw a toad turd on the floor right in front of the box with my baking rings and pans in it.  Innocently minding my own business, I lugged the box onto the floor, looking for some baking pans, and what to my wondering eyes appeared but another large toad turd INSIDE the box, in the middle of a stack of a jillion baking rings.  When Toad Two himself leapt up onto yet another ring in another part of the box (thankfully NOT silpat), I stifled my exclamation of surprise and he stifled (a bit) his look of total exasperation, as if to say, JEEZ WOMAN.  Everywhere I go there you are!  I murmured something to the effect that I had never before had the pleasure of finding toads in my muffin tin,/sink/toilet/waterbucket/middle of floor/souffle dish, so he had to excuse me.  Humph, or its toad equivalent, wafted on the breeze as he jumped into the nether recesses of a double boiler.  This, then, is the daily excitement.  Along with the black dog who lives with the donkeys up the road who gives us a magisterial head wave as we drive by.

Fall is in the air.  Everything has changed color and the leaves are blowing around crazily.  This means yet another, imminent, encounter with yet another wood cutter.  The complexities of getting anything handled around here sometimes threaten to swamp what remains of my small but active mind but I shall sally forth and attempt to make a deal with whoever it is this time, as woodcutters seem to move around a lot in these parts.  Preferably this time the deal will only involve me paying for the wood, and not involve me supplying beer and picking up dog turds as well.  We’ll see.

Otherwise? I am increasingly struck with the impression that the political, corporate influenced world we all live in is almost completely built of outright lies- it is almost funny.  But not quite.  It makes planning pieces of one’s life a challenge on some level because the playing field is not only not even, not level, but also gets changed at the drop of a hat depending on who decides they’re calling the game.  I find more and more that what I feel as a citizen of this country is sorrow and grief; certainly not pride.  In fact, I’m starting to feel like a bit of an idiot for falling for the line in the first place, way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth.  But all this press of event is part of the flux of time, of course.  Little specks flying through it we are, made of stardust and diatoms, indeed we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff which, of course, it all is in the end.  Then it comes back to the basics again- dealing with fear and uncertainty, learning to live with enough courage to be truthful.  I had no idea it would be such a life long endeavor with such ever expanding consequences and vistas.  Thank you, in any event, to those of you who read these tales!

The Little Things

It was a weekend of sturm und drang. Fracas everywhere. Quite wearing, actually. BUT. As usual, redeemed by something wonderful.

The birds, Gentle Reader. They have a play tree the Partner made for them from recycled beach logs. It was quite a wonderful sculpture, really. Poppy had finally chewed off all the ladder parts, plus it was encrusted with….ahem. After some scuffle about With ALL the Other More Important Things We Have To Worry About Why Are You Bringing This Up??!!?? Partner did take tree outside for repairs.

When it returned, it was Absolutely Fabulous. New ladder area with fantastic different sized rungs, extra places to stand on, and sparkling clean. As well as being made of very stern woodstuff that won’t disappear the first day of chewing.

The girls, of course, knew something was up and demanded to be let out to see it last night. And what a revelation that was. Poppy went to her normal spot on the tree, and BEAMED. She sang a little song. She looked like she might cry. She kept looking back at Partner, smiling, tentatively putting beak and foot on new spots, checking out the ones that were still the same (yes, this IS the same!) flew around and gave both of us lots of kisses. It was like watching our neighbor’s two year old get a new toy truck: He put his hands over his face, and laughed, then threw his head back, as though it were all too wonderful and too much. That’s just what Poppy did. Boo, who is currently laying eggs, bustled out to investigate and, after registering her total approval, returned to her cage for her new favorite game, Cheerio Toss. She won’t let us in all the time now, so you get to stand there and propel cheerios to just that one certain spot where she wants them…..So, yes. This IS how I spend part of my time since you ask.

Coupled with the next fun I get to have, now that I’ve dealt with my various tax ID issues: The Credit Card Company That Has Decided Now Is The Time To Quadruple My Payment. I can hardly wait. But still, the Bird Tree has been restored to splendor. We have our own Parliament of the Birds right in the living room, and that is a good thing.

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    Our Founder


    Gentle Reader, I present Boo(zilla).  While I’m at it:



    The actual brains of the outfit

    The actual brains of the outfit

    Her sister, Poppy.  As the caption implies, Poppy is the Mise-en-Scene.  Boo, of course, the Diva.   I humbly fill in, mostly as Dog’s* Body.

    Seeing as how my brain has turned into something akin to a deep fried hockey puck,  this is it for today.  The spokesperson for said  brain was unavailable for comment and there is no real word of when it may return. We’re hoping tomorrow.

    Don’t Take It Serious, Life’s Too Mysterious

    Some years ago, I stuck a quote on my  bathroom mirror (helpful reminders and all), about maintaining balance.  “Don’t overreact.  Keep things in perspective.”  This was from a person discussing what it took to make monastic life workable.

    Today I had two good, if perhaps silly, opportunities to ponder this concept.  First, mirrors.  HOLY CATS.  I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that mirrors are just as weird as they are said to be in fairy tales.  They possess strange powers to confer the magical qualities of glamour.  And anti-glamour.  If *I* ruled the world they would all be the same.  Then one would not have the jarring experience I had today of seeing myself in a friend’s hall which is covered in mirror tiles, looking like a…a…well.  Like a humongous dumpling.  When I left home earlier for this venture I had, of course, checked the appearance so as not to be completely inappropriate from front or rear.  At home, while perhaps not svelte, the effect was CERTAINLY NOT DUMPLING LIKE.  This visual event, then,  of course plunged me into a huge despondency.

    From whence I had barely crawled after this morning’s encounter with, yes, Boozilla.  A parrot has a brain, I reckon, about the size of an almond? maybe? But they are smart.  And temperamental.  Perhaps they. like we, also overract.  In any event, this morning as I proceed to feed the ravening beaks (as usual, I might add.  As in like every other day since they’ve been born almost.), I open Boo(zilla’s) cage, and not only will she not come out?  She actually goes and hides herself behind her little snuggle mat on the side of the cage.  Perhaps affecting a bit of a limp.  Being a COMPLETE NINNY I of course go get the Partner, with whom both of these creatures are madly, deeply, totally in love, to check.  There’s nothing wrong with her, he said tonelessly through clenched teeth.  Guess what? There wasn’t.  She hopped out onto his hand, did her business nicely (instead of on her sister which is what she usually does for ME), and proceeded to kiss the dickens out of him. I was surprised at myself but I must confess: This hurt my feelers.  I told her so.  I was plunged into despondency.  Interestingly enough, sensing that, BOTH birds rushed to my shoulders and played in my hair and made squeaky growly deep breathing noises.  While mollified by this, I still felt like an idiot.  But happier than before, when I felt crushed.  By a perceived rejection from a parrot.

    Now, granted, I may be on psychic thin ice these days what with everything.  Still.  I pondered how some really simple, simple thing can make us feel one way or another; some simple thing to which we attach a value and react, overreact and swerve off the side of our day’s road.  Feeling either downcast or inflated.  The same thing happens with any preconception too, I think.  How someone looks, how they sound, can make us reach a quick conclusion that can be totally off base.  We don’t keep things in perspective, of which Rule One can be, I think, safely stated as: It Is Not All About You. Also, You Probably Have No Idea What This Other Being Is Thinking OR Feeling, Along with Consider The Source When Looking In Mirrors: They Are Not All The Same.