Category: Spirituality

The Month of May!

For all my life this has felt like a very special month.

And, dear friends, at the risk of repeating myself to many of you, this is why the month of May is special for me.

Simply that I was born in London during the closing months of the Second World War. Inevitably, I was unaware of the number of German bombs that were falling on London during those last few months. But there were thousands.

On May 8th. 1945, the day that WWII ended and six months to the day from when I was born, my mother looked down at me and said aloud to me: “You are going to live”. Despite the fact that I don’t recall my mother saying that, it was verified many times later when I was growing up.

Now here we are approaching May 8th. 2017 and in a very real sense it seems that we are in another war.

A war of consequence.

A war that we have been engaged in for many, many years.

A war where we are inadvertently fighting on a global battlefield.

A war where 99.99% of us don’t consciously identify the weapons we are using. Weapons that are incredibly effective. So much so that we are in sight of winning the last battle; winning the war.

Yet a war where winning is no win at all. Indeed, where winning this war, this global war, spells the end. The end of life for 99.99% of us humans (and much else besides).

Now what on earth has got me so fired up?

Two things have:

The first is that I am living in my 73rd year of life. I have no idea of when my life comes to an end. But that death is a guarantee. Indeed, if one takes note of the average life expectancy of a male today in the USA (75.6 years) , it may not be that far away.

The second thing is that before my death I truly want to know that humankind has laid down its weapons of war against our planet and that there really is an unstoppable mission, a united wave of passion, to live in peace on this planet. Perhaps better put to live in peace with this planet.

Or in the words of an organization that I now want to introduce:

A mission which will require the hard work and dedication of each and every one of us as we do everything in our power as individuals, but also as we galvanize businesses, entrepreneurs, innovators, city planners, communities, people and politicians—all those who share our purpose.

OK! Thank you if you are still reading this! (Someone give Fred in that soft arm-chair over there a nudge; I can hear his snores from here!)

In the last Smithsonian electronic newsletter that I was reading yesterday morning there was a reference to an organization that I hadn’t previously come across. Here is the link to that item on The Smithsonian website. I am republishing it in full in this place. As you read it you will understand why I am republishing it.

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Using a New Roadmap to Democratize Climate Change

A new tool aims to bypass governments and put the power of climate action in the people’s hands

By Anne Glusker    Smithsonian.com     April 28, 2017

Olafur Grimsson, who was president of Iceland from 1996 to 2016 and saw his country through the worst economic crisis in its history, making headlines all over the world as banks collapsed and the country fell into a depression, is the very picture of an urbane statesman. Collected and poised, with a striking full head of white hair, as comfortable in English as in his native Icelandic, he seems an unlikely revolutionary, not the sort of person you’d look at and immediately find yourself thinking: “Power to the People.”

 But Grimsson is one of the primary architects of a quietly radical new idea whose aim is to facilitate action on climate change without any of the usual suspects—governments, countries, international bodies, negotiating parties.

He and several other veterans of the historic 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change were in Washington, D.C., last year, just before COP22, the climate meeting held in Marrakesh in 2016. They were pondering next steps when the conversation took a new and interesting turn, Grimsson says, addressing the question: “Was it possible to have the success of Paris without governments necessarily being in the leading role?”

The group included movers and shakers such as Peter Seligmann, the chairman of Conservation International; Laurene Powell Jobs, president of the philanthropic organization the Emerson Collective; and Andy Karsner, an assistant energy secretary during the administration of George W. Bush. Galvanized by their own query, they decided to try to answer it—to set about creating a new tool to aid in achieving the goals of the Paris accord.

At the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, a gathering this past weekend of conservation-minded citizens, scientists and activists, Grimsson explained: “You get governments that are opposed or even hostile to climate action. We decided to bring together in Marrakesh a gathering of thinkers and scientists and innovators and policymakers from different countries in order to discuss a new model of securing the success of the future of the climate movement.”

At the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism Summit, the former president of Iceland Olafur Grimsson encouraged new solutions to climate change, awarding cash prizes to the winners of the “Make for the Planet” challenge. (The Roadmap)

Grimsson’s group felt that due to changes in information technology and social transformations, the large organizations and structures that used to be necessary to effect change were now not needed. And thus was born Roadmap, a new crowdsourcing tool for anyone and everyone interested in climate action. Still in its very early stages, Roadmap’s founders envision it as a platform for those working on climate issues—from scientist and policymaker to farmer and fisherman—to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and ideas, methods and techniques.

“A new political model is possible—where everyone can be a doer, where you no longer need big government or big enterprises to bring about success,” Grimsson says.

This new model for social change that skips the usual cumbersome channels and processes has been seen everywhere from public health, where the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has redefined the sector, to the hospitality industry, which is working to combat the human trafficking that plagues its businesses, to perhaps most famously the Arab Spring, where the role of social media in bringing about political change is still being debated today.

And this new model is complemented by technological changes. “The innovation in energy technology is such that we no longer have to wait for the big energy breakthrough,” Grimsson says. “We already have the available technologies. Every individual, home, village, community, town and region can execute change. The good news from the climate point of view is that, in addition to the information technology revolution, there has now also taken place an energy revolution. A house can be a power station: If the people who live in that house have extra energy, they can sell their energy through the smart grid. The notion that every house can be a power station is as revolutionary as saying that every mobile phone can be a media company.”

Grimsson admits that it may seem odd for someone in his position to be advocating that ordinary citizens take action apart from the conventional corridors of governmental power.

“For me to say that these traditional political organizations and positions are somewhat outdated is perhaps a strange statement: I was a professor of political science, I’ve been a member of parliament, I’ve been a minister of finance, I was president for 20 years,” he says.

It was during Iceland’s financial meltdown that he first experienced this new kind of social change: “I saw this very strongly through the financial crisis in my own country, which led to a big social economic uprising. All those activities were engineered by unknown people, people who were not part of a big organization, who used Facebook and the information media to bring thousands of people together in one day.”

Right now, Roadmap consists of a website and a lofty manifesto that speaks of raising the value of “moral currency” and creating a “best practices warehouse.” Visitors to the site can fill out a form if they want to become part of its community of “doers.” The practical part of the manifesto speaks of identifying the best methodologies and models; implementing a “real-time system of measurement” and a way to “gauge and understand what is working, what is not, and exactly what is being achieved.” As the platform develops, it will be interesting to see exactly what form these gauges, measurement systems, and warehouses take.

After the Paris Agreement, Grimsson says of himself and his Roadmap co-founders, “We were all optimistic, but we are all also realists.” It is his belief that if you “give people the tools, they can execute the transformation and the change—without governmental leadership.” Perhaps Roadmap will be one of those tools.

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Here’s a video that spells it out in ways that I find impossible to ignore. (And, yes, I signed up, as in joining, yesterday afternoon.)

Because in hundreds of years time I want others to look at the following picture of Troutbeck Valley in England and know how precious is this one and only planet we live on.

Or in the words of Sue Dreamwalker that I read yesterday evening:

We are witnessing more storms, more unseasonal weather patterns, and I just hope that we wake up soon to the damage we are doing to our beloved Mother that has held us in her eternal arms for so long..

Photo credit: Getty Images

Enjoy the month of May wherever you are in the world!

Closing by repeating a key pronouncement in that RoadMap video above:

Why We? Who Else!

Natalie exploring the meaning of peace.

Another delightful travel account from Natalie Derham-Weston.

Albeit perhaps travels of a more inward nature.

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Travel Blog: Installment 3: Living on a boat.

Simple Peace

I fancied an interlude this week to share a morning I enjoyed over the weekend. It isn’t often that the chance arises to enjoy our local surroundings without time limits, overdue deadlines or inconvenient meetings. However, I had a day off Saturday; a concept becoming more and more valued having since started a new full-time job, which is quite demanding on my time. I have requested this high load of hours but after months of travelling and not having regular work, it is taking a while for me to adjust to the mental and physical demands.

Anyway, without going into the irrelevant details, I have been spending my time living on a boat in a marina in Lymington, a small sea side town in the New Forest on the South Coast of England. This means my commute to work is a 2 minute walk and although I do not know the first notion about sailing, I have quickly fallen for the lifestyle of boats and water. I have found it to be extremely sociable and relaxing and I have all I need around me. This includes a bicycle, a car, swimming facilities, work, grocery shops and a very modest yet comfortable boat.

So last Saturday, I woke up early, as I was already in the routine of being awake from my work shifts and saw the sun streaming in through the port hole windows. This immediately buoyed me and I pulled the curtains and opened the hatch to let in the fresh air. I had a few items on a to do list but I certainly didn’t intend on wasting the valuable time I had.

I did have an appointment I couldn’t shirk but made it as quick as possible and on the way back picked up some lunch items. Back on the boat, I had a quick tidy and clean as I firmly believe an orderly workspace leads to a clearer mind.

I pre-empt this by saying I am usually accompanied by my father on the boat but this specific day was the first time I had been left in solo charge and this gave me somewhat of an independent free feeling. So my next mission was to cook some eggs which I did on our very small gas camping stove. I took some cushions out on deck and had my lunch in the warm April sunshine. Our pontoon seems to be quite an active mooring site and there were people constantly wandering along it all day, carrying tools, bags and equipment back and forth. So although I was alone, I did not feel isolated.

I then left everything behind on the boat, including my phone and took my bicycle around the headland on a trail I had never been on before. The channel was extremely clear and I had a wonderful view over to the Isle of Wight and watched the bustle of boats going to and fro. I passed lots of families, dogs, bird watchers and couples but kept going at a steady pace along the gravel track headed towards Keyhaven, the next fishing village along.

There is no specific reason why I enjoyed this so much, just the whole atmosphere and surroundings made for a very encompassing uplifting day. I continued along the path, and had no care as to where I was or where I was going. I was confident enough that I knew I’d always find my way back somehow and so without that pre-conditioned feeling of panic, I cycled on along the back roads and hauled my bicycle over fences and gates.

Two hours later I cycled back in to the marina and abandoned the bike next to the boat. The boat is never locked, another aspect I really appreciate. I don’t think this would be possible everywhere, but it allows for a very open way of life. So I grabbed a cushion and headed to the bow of the boat, lying in the sun, drinking a beer, watching the world go by.

This just proved to me how easy it is to be happy sometimes. We need very little but that day will stay in my memory for a long time as a point in time where I was 100% content.

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I had the great fortune of living on a yacht Songbird of Kent, a Tradewind 33, for five years in the late ’80s early ’90s based out of Larnaca on the Greek side of Cyprus. I can fully vouch for the peace that Natalie has written about.

Earth Day 2017

We must have a better relationship with our one and only planet!

There’s a part of me that sadly wonders why we, as in Jean and me, and undoubtedly countless others, bother with recognising ‘Earth Day’!

For in so many ways our Planet is screaming out that we humans are not doing enough to care for it! (Yes, I know that’s an emotional outburst from me!)

It could be argued that we don’t have a friendship with our planet. For if we cared for and loved our home planet as so many of us care for and love our animals what a difference that would make.

My way of introducing this recent essay from Mother Nature Network this Earth Day 2017.

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The power of unusual animal friendships

Studying odd couple animal friendships can help researchers learn what goes into normal human relationships.

Mary Jo DiLonardo

April 20, 2017
A ferret and a cat take a nap together. (Photo: Best dog photo/Shutterstock)

We know that sometimes animals have unlikely friendships. Whether it’s circumstances that throw them together or they just happen to find a friend from another species, animals will occasionally become pals, creating an unconventional alliance.

These unusual relationships cause a certain amount of double-takes — and they’re often incredibly adorable — but there’s also a scientific benefit to studying odd animal friendships.

“There’s no question that studying these relationships can give you some insight into the factors that go into normal relationships,” Gordon Burghardt, a professor in the departments of psychology and ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Tennessee, told the New York Times.

An African elephant and a giraffe have become unlikely pals due to the confines of a zoo. (Photo: Glass and Nature/Shutterstock)

Cross-species bonds typically occur in young animals, and they’re also common among captive animals that have no choice but to seek each other out.

“I think the choices animals make in cross-species relationships are the same as they’d make in same-species relationships,” Marc Bekoff, professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, told Slate. “Some dogs don’t like every other dog. Animals are very selective about the other individuals who they let into their lives.”

And when predator and prey become buddies, that requires serious trust from the animal on the prey end, Bekoff points out.

The polar bears at SeaWorld San Diego in happier times. (Photo: samantha celera/flickr)

Animal friendships — whether in their own species or outside — can be very meaningful. Consider the story of Szenja, a 21-year-old polar bear who died at SeaWorld San Diego in mid-April after an unexplained illness including loss of appetite and energy, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. Szenja had recently been separated from her long-time companion, Snowflake, who had been sent to the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium for a breeding visit. The pair had been together for 20 years. The polar bears made headlines in March when more than 55,000 people signed a petition not to separate the “best friends.”

In a statement, PETA Executive Vice President Tracy Remain said Szenja died of a broken heart.

Humpty the hippo and her friend Sala the kudu are orphans who became friends at a wildlife sanctuary in Kenya. (Photo: The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust)

Here’s a look at some animal odd couples that have forged lasting bonds.

A llama nuzzles its sheep friend. (Photo: Katriona McCarthy/flickr)
This squirrel and wren are backyard BFFs. (Photo: Bonnie Taylor Barry/Shutterstock)
A pigeon hangs out with its rabbit friends. (Photo: Marina2811/Shutterstock)
This kitten and bearded dragon can’t get enough of each other. (Photo: ohheyitsnikki/imgur)

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Dear people, make a promise to improve the relationship we all have with our planet.

Nighty, night Paloma

Now we are seven!

It’s approaching 6:30pm here in Oregon.

Jean and I have just returned from taking Paloma to Lincoln Road Vet Clinic.

The reason being is that not two hours ago, Jean and I came into the house to find Paloma paralyzed in both rear legs.

Dr. Russell Codd at the clinic determined via an X-ray that a spinal disc had ‘popped’ and contacted a spinal nerve, hence the paralysis.

My planned post for tomorrow is postponed. I’ll write a eulogy for Paloma and publish it instead.

 

For They Bring Out The Best In Us!

A wonderful follow-on to yesterday’s post.

As many of you will know, yesterday I published a post under the heading of Dogs: Aren’t They Incredible. It was the first of three essays that have been published by The Smithsonian about the wonderful ways of the dog.

So when I was wondering just what to share with you today and was browsing ‘stuff’ this story over on the Care2 site struck me as a perfect companion to yesterday’s post.

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Man Hears Barking From Under Pavement and Rescues Buried-Alive Dog

Editor’s note: This post is a Care2 favorite, back by popular demand. It was originally published on October 4, 2015. Enjoy!

A pregnant dog buried alive under paving stones for two days was rescued by local hero Rustam Vadim who heard a soft barking sound as he walked home with family in the Russian city of Voronezh.

Concerned about the dog’s survival, Rustam immediately went to the public utilities office to ask for help in rescuing her but was told that that department had not made the repair to a long-standing large hole in the street and they could not help.

Apparently, workers from a different government agency had made the repair and were unaware of the dog hiding in the hole as they sealed it over with paving stones.

[Ed: This video has a Russian commentary but you don’t need words to understand it!]

“My husband started to hammer to pull out the cobblestone and to hand dig out the sand because he did not have a shovel,” Rustam’s wife explains. “There was a gap that laid between the large cobblestones. My husband removed one stone and saw the face of a dog. He started to slowly pull out the dog as she is pregnant. After rescuing the dog, we recovered the hole so there is no threat to people.”

The dog was reportedly taken to a shelter and is being cared for. How many of you would like a man like Rustam as your friend or neighbor?

Photo Credit: YouTube

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How many, indeed, would like Rustam as a friend.

In fact, it underlines the truth that despite all the gloom and doom we read about on a daily basis most of the people out there are nice people!

Finally, I was curious as to where Voronezh was in Russia. Thanks to ‘Google’ that question was quickly answered:

Voronezh is a city and the administrative center of Voronezh Oblast, Russia, straddling the Voronezh River and located 12 kilometers from where it flows into the Don. Wikipedia
It appears to be about an eight-hour drive South-south-east of Moscow and here’s a picture of the city.
Voronezh.

In memory of Casey

Casey: September, 2005 – February, 2017

Dear Casey was put to sleep yesterday morning.

I am going to republish a ‘Meet the dogs” essay that was written and first published February 25th, 2014.

But before doing so, Jean and I would like to extend our very great thanks to all the staff at the Southern Oregon Vet Specialty Center (SOVC) who have been so professional and so loving and caring.

Here is that essay. It is worth noting that we moved from Payson, AZ to Merlin, OR in 2012.

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Casey

by Jean Handover.

Casey, at home; picture taken a month ago.
Casey, at home; picture taken a month ago.

It is 2011.

Every Friday, the Payson Roundup newspaper would devote a full page to the Humane Society, displaying some of the cats and dogs they had for adoption. I would read about each animal and quietly wish I could bring them all home.

I was particularly taken with one dog that had appeared several times in this Friday page. His name was Casey and he was a six-year-old Pit Bull mix. Unfortunately, at home we were ‘maxed out’ with a total of 14 dogs in three different sections of our house. We just couldn’t take Casey.

I had volunteered to be a dog-walker at the Humane Society dog shelter. But after two sessions walking dogs, I just couldn’t look at these sad little faces without breaking down in tears. I switched my efforts to working at the Society’s Thrift Store. That was great fun and, at least, it felt as though I was still helping the animals. Nonetheless, I was very impressed with the animal shelter. They did their utmost to re-home the animals in their care.

Ruby’s ‘pack’ here at home included Phoebe and Tess, rescue dogs from Mexico. Recently, Phoebe had died with leukaemia and Tess with bone cancer leaving Ruby on her own. Ruby was a dog that didn’t mix at all well with the other dogs, as was explained in last week’s post.

The next Friday, the Payson Roundup showed the Society’s ‘lonely hearts club’, highlighting animals that had been in care for a long time. The first dog shown was Casey. I telephone Chandra, the lady responsible for adoptions, and asked if Paul and I could bring Ruby to the shelter to find a companion for her. When we were at the shelter, Chandra asked us if we had anything against Pit Bulls. Of course we didn’t. Ruby was introduced to Casey and, as they say, the rest was history. Casey and Ruby right from the start were just wonderful together.

Ruby behind Casey.
Ruby behind Casey.

Subsequently, I learned from Chandra that Casey had been in care for over a year and, had we not taken him home, his days were numbered at the shelter. There were many cheers and tears when I signed the adoption paper for Casey.

Fast forward to the year 2012 to when we are now living at Merlin, OR.

Casey now lives in the kitchen group here in Oregon: Paloma, Ruby, Lilly and Casey. As with all our dogs, Casey is so happy to have our 14 acres to play in. He is also the sweetest natures of dogs and will try to climb on to your lap at the first opportunity. I have always been a great advocate of Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes and have never come across a mean one.

Thus, if you are in the position to adopt a dog, please consider Pit Bulls and Pit Bull mixes for the Pit Bull is a much-maligned breed.

Casey demonstrating a dog's focussing skills!
Casey demonstrating a dog’s focussing skills!

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This is how Casey will be remembered.

Finally, recalling how close and good friends Ruby was with Casey, one couldn’t see a clearer expression on a dog’s face that Casey was being missed than on the face of Ruby. The picture was taken just before 6pm yesterday evening.

p1160918Trust me, Ruby’s normal face truly has a smile on it.

Feeding the correct wolf!

A very heart-touching guest post

Yesterday I used as a sub-heading “I will never, ever tire of the wonderful connections made by this blog!

I wrote that before Sydney sent in a guest post which reached out to me, to Jeannie and, undoubtedly, will reach out to many others. Sydney further validated the power of the wonderful connections that blogging brings.

Here’s how it came about.

Not that long ago, there was a new follower to this place. As is so frequently the case that new follower was also a blogger. Their blog is called very beautifully: Recovery For All Of My Heart. As I always try to do, I went across to leave a ‘thank you’ note. I also read the About page that I want to republish here by way of my introduction to Sydney.

Hello, I am in recovery from an eating disorder, depression and anxiety. The way I got to the best place in my mind is by changing my perspective.

In this blog, I use my new open-mindedness to show the world the beauty I see in hopes that others will then see the beauty in themselves. For me, all it took was to see the beauty in myself, but I needed someone to help me see it first. My hope is to be that person for others.

There is a way to see the good in every piece of you. You can get your mindset to see what others love about you. The proof of everyone’s beauty lies in changing your perspective and this blog hopes to put into light the beauty in everyone that ever existed.

So now to Sydney’s post. (And if you want to understand why I chose the title to this post, then please read right down to the end.)

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Mindfulness and a dog named Bailey

By Sydney R. February 23rd., 2017

Bailey
Bailey

When I was 21 years old, I got a hound boxer puppy named Bailey. Previously, I had a dog my mom and I raised when I was seven; she was named Rachel.

I only speak of Bailey in this post because of a certain situation I want to talk about, but I also wanted to mention how amazing Rachel was too.

Anyway, I raised Bailey to be the sweet almost two-year-old he is today. He is not a normal dog to me. This is because I believe him to be extraordinary (so original for dog owners, I know), and also because I have struggled with my mental health.

I have struggled with depression and he has changed my life for the better. One day last year I was having a very hard time with my depression. I wanted to just lay in bed and quit my job and begin isolating again. I wanted to just sleep and not fight the thoughts and just let them rattle on inside of my mind while I lay there.

I grabbed my dog as he was lying next to me and held onto him ready to remain in my negative thoughts for all eternity. Then something changed: I felt his fur. I felt my cheek against his fur. I heard his sweet little breathing that used to put me to sleep when he laid on my chest when he was a puppy. I was being mindful without even realizing it.

I was aware of everything I was feeling when holding this thing that is so dear to my heart.

Suddenly, all the pain went away. I was reminded of this feeling I can have while holding my dog. I can fight this depression and I can have a wonderful life. If you ever are feeling extremely sad or have any type of negative urges, and this can be about anything, grab your furry little one and just stay in the moment until they pass.

And why is this?

Research has shown that if you look into your dogs eyes, the hormonal response is activated just like the one that is activated when you look at infants. Scientists took blood samples of dogs and their owners before and during time spent petting. The results were that the levels of oxytocin went up in humans during a petting session of a dog and it was at very similar levels of new mothers and their infants.

Even more amazing, dogs had the same levels in their blood as well, showing how happy they are around their owners. During my depression that night, holding onto my dog was not just helping me overcome my sadness, he was having a nice time as well.

Now what I am guessing is that if you are sitting down, petting your dog, but not really paying much attention, your dog will be happy, but your oxytocin levels will not be as high as they could be. When you are mindful and staying in the moment whilst petting your dog, you could be seriously happy, to the point where your oxytocin levels from your dog stops you from ruminating on your negative thoughts.

Don’t just pet your dog when you are upset…make sure you are completely in the moment.

Notice your body and notice what your hands and arms are feeling as you wrap your arms around your dog. Let your hands and all of your arms feel the fur. Use all of your senses. Make sure you hear your dog and do not let your thoughts block out being in the moment. Regular petting of the dog is enjoyable. Mindful petting of a dog could change your life, like it did mine.

Now I will always know that I have something to go to when I feel depressed. This is extremely important because one huge part of depression is hopelessness. This is the feeling that you will always feel depressed.

With a dog, you have hope to get out of those feelings. I know that I have my dog to go to and I will never fear being sad forever again. I always have the mindful petting of Bailey or Rachel that will make the negative thoughts drain away.

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Good people, I am genuinely humbled by both Sydney’s desire to share this with you, and by the magic of having a dog in our life.

So let me close like this.

BBC Television in the UK currently have on their iPlayer site a drama series called Death in Paradise: The programme website is here.

Detective drama series set on a Caribbean island.

In a recent episode there was this profoundly wise observation made by the detective, Jack Mooney, played by Ardal O’Hanlon.

Detective Jack Mooney
Detective Jack Mooney

There are always two wolves deep inside us.

One is a hateful, angry, selfish wolf that doesn’t hesitate to try and do you harm.

The other wolf is a soft, gentle creature that responds to love and always wants to love you back.

So which wolf is in charge?

The wolf we feed!

Footnote:

This came to my ‘inbox’ a short time ago (as of 09:30 Sunday morning):

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Max, our dark Prince

Another crossing of the Rainbow Bridge

Yesterday, in came an email that brought a tear to my eye:

Dear Paul,

I came across your blog this morning and saw the post on ‘We shall not forget them’ to pay tribute to our fur babies.

My black Labrador, Max, crossed the Rainbow Bridge on November 28th. He’s on my mind all the time and I have constantly been trying to do little things that make me feel his presence.

I was hoping I could pay a tribute to him on your blog. Please find a small poem and a portrait of him that I had penned down earlier. This is the original picture I sketched of him.

The email came from Samyuktha Sridhar and it is a wonderful honour and privelege to offer Sam’s tribute to Max.

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Max, our dark Prince

by Samyuktha Sridhar

Max, our handsome black labrador who was eleven and a half years old crossed to the other side of the Rainbow Bridge on 28 November, 2016. We miss him like crazy and it hasn’t yet fully sunk in.

There is no way we can make the pain go away, but we need to move on and learn to live with the beautiful memories. Every person has a different way of dealing with loss and sadness. I like to put my thoughts on paper. It helps me get things out of my system.

So here’s what I did..

wp-image-979505248jpgIf memories could bring us closer, if tears could bridge the gap

I’d cross the oceans to see you, in warm wet hugs we’d wrap

I opened my eyes to reality, to warm wet tears instead

The pain in my heart was real, as the voices in my head

Echoed, “No teary goodbyes were exchanged, no words of farewell spoken,

Would it have made it easier, if we had that chance?” I’m torn!

If I knew t’was the last time, that you’d look into my eyes

I’d have cradled your head upon my lap, stayed by you as you lay.

Were you in pain that fateful night, when the big brown clock struck three?

Sadly I’ll never know, would I? If you’d reached out to me.

With every breath you took you filled, my heart with so much love

You took a piece of my heart with you, the piece that belonged to you.

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Again and again we are reminded of what our dogs mean to us. So beautifully expressed by Sam.

Please, if you want to offer a tribute to your dearly departed dog do share it on these pages.

Dogs bring out so much love in us!

One can never have too many examples of love in a life!

These are interesting times. If we took even a small percentage of what we read about or see in the news media to heart we would think that life is hardly worth living for. So stuff the bad news out of sight!

Now read this that was recently published on the Care2 website.

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Schoolchildren Raise Over $7,200 to Help Dog Hit by Car

3200486-largeBy: Laura Goldman, February 9, 2017
About Laura

 

Over 80 percent of the students who attend Los Amigos Elementary School in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., are from socioeconomically disadvantaged families, but that didn’t stop them from doing everything they could to raise money to save an animal in need.

It began in early December, when a school employee found an injured black Lab mix hiding in bushes near the parking lot.

“There’s this really hurt dog,” Vice Principal Sharon Linville heard over a walkie-talkie, according to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin. “I’m sure this dog is going to die, he’s in so much pain.” She and other employees brought the dog blankets and water, and contacted the Rancho Cucamonga Animal Care and Adoption Center.

The center’s staff veterinarian, Cynthia Servantez, visited the school a few days later to give the students a not-so-good update on the dog they’d named “Black Bart.” He’d been hit by a car and would probably survive, but he needed surgery that would cost about $3,000.

An X-ray had revealed that both of Bart’s hips were dislocated. As Dr. Servantez told the students, Bart’s “puzzle pieces had come undone.”

The schoolchildren immediately took action to help put those pieces back together. The school launched a “Pennies for Paws” campaign to collect spare change for Bart’s surgery.

Every single student made a donation. “They looked through sofa cushions, they gave up their allowance, some of them gave us IOUs,” Linville told KABC. “We have a bunch of Chuck E. Cheese coins that we got.”

One week later, the school gave the animal care center a check in the amount of $471.37.

Servantez told the Daily Bulletin it was the first time ever that anyone had offered to pay for the medical care of an injured stray dog.

The Los Amigos students continued their Pennies for Paws campaign and the momentum continued to build. Yvonne and Art Alvarez, owners of Doggie Couture in Rancho Cucamonga, were so impressed by the students’ efforts that they matched the funds that had been raised.

“We wanted them to know if they do something nice, it can make other people do it and then it becomes something big,” Yvonne Alvarez told the Daily Bulletin.

Several weeks after he’d been discovered at the school, “Who Let the Dogs Out” played over the speakers as Bart returned for a special guest appearance at a Jan. 23 rally in his honor.

Linville announced that the Los Amigos students had surpassed their $3,000 goal – by over $4,200. The extra money would be donated to the animal shelter to help other pets in need.

Veterinarian Victoria Impett, who accompanied Bart, told the schoolchildren to give themselves a pat on the back. Most of them complied. “It might not have seemed like big deal to go home and dig in the couch for a few pennies, but each and every one of you made a huge difference in someone’s life,” she told them.

Bart had no ID tag or microchip, and no one has come forward to claim him. He still needs surgery on his right hip. Once he recovers, he’ll be ready for adoption. “He’s starting to kind of blossom into a fabulous dog,” Impett said.

As Linville told the students, “This has been an incredible journey, and it’s really cool to be kind.”

Photo credit: YouTube

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I easily found this short video on YouTube.

Enjoy!

Connections

Funny how things flow at times.

In yesterday’s post about the cleverness of chickens, John Zande, a long-time friend of this place, left this remark:

I have a marvellous blogging friend in New Mexico who has Rufina, a chicken who was shot in the head, sealed in a plastic bag, placed in a freezer for 24hrs, and lived! (albeit now blind).

I have a framed poster of Rufina up in my living room, and even one her feathers perched in one of my many, many, many St. Francis’s

Here’s the Huffington Post article on her

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/14/zombie-chicken-freezer-alive_n_5675615.html

And here’s Laura’s first post on this gorgeous creature.

https://liveclayart.com/2013/06/24/the-undead-chicken

Then in response to me wanting to republish that story replied: “Contact her, she’s wonderful, and her pottery is to die for.

So I did and, with Laura’s permission here is that story of this most remarkable chicken.

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The Undead Chicken

by Laura Bruzzese, June 24th, 2013

rufinaThis is Rufina. She’s new to our household.

She’s quiet and doesn’t take up much space, mostly sits on her perch or in her ceramic nest all day. She moves around slowly. If you are really gentle, she lets you pick her up.

We sit by the pond together in the morning, before everyone else gets up.

rufina1Last Thursday, I answered a friend’s call on Facebook for someone to take this chicken. Isabella and I drove to my friend’s house in the South Valley, put her in a bin, and brought her home. I didn’t think she’d actually still be alive today.

My friend had posted this story Thursday morning:

The neighbor gave us fresh chickens last night for cooking up. He shot them in the head with gun and handed them over the fence. We bagged them and put in freezer for today. Evan gets home, opens freezer and one bird is perched fully alive, very cold, and pissed off.
Chase ensues… !! We now have a blind undead chicken in our yard.

Anybody want it?

I’m not sure why anyone would shoot chickens in the head.

But when I read the story, I couldn’t help but admire this chicken’s tenacity. She is courageous. She made her way out of a plastic bag inside a freezer and survived for thirty-six hours. After being shot in the head.  I figured any animal that fought that hard to live deserved a little help, if only for a day or two.

The chicken hasn’t made any effort to eat like a normal chicken. Because, of course, she can’t see where to peck. (There isn’t much point in force-feeding a blind chicken.) But she does drink, so I’ve started blending up borrowed chicken food and water and giving her that. She seems content, grooming herself sometimes, showing no signs of pain or anxiety. And still, she will die.

But until then, we will enjoy each of her borrowed mornings by the pond, the sound of birds and running water, the sun on her feathers, expecting nothing.

I’m not sure why I have a blind, undead chicken in my studio. But here is one of my favorite poems, by Laura Gilpin.

The Two-Headed Calf

Tomorrow when the farm boys find this
freak of nature, they will wrap his body
in newspaper and carry him to the museum.

But tonight he is alive and in the north
field with his mother. It is a perfect
summer evening: the moon rising over
the orchard, the wind in the grass. And
as he stares into the sky, there are
twice as many stars as usual.

[Epilogue]

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Now if you think that was remarkable then let me share what Laura posted a few weeks later, linked to via her Epilogue above.

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The Miracle of Re-Birth

by Laura Bruzzese, July 11th, 2013

Good news: it’s been three weeks since the attempted murder of Rufina, and she continues to dwell among the living!

rufina2After loads of eye care, foot washing, antibiotics, food and vitamins, she has gained weight and is learning to find food and water by herself. Her remaining eye looks normal again but is still blind (I was hoping for a miracle), and the place of its former pair seems to have reached its majority in terms of healing–no eye, but no skin, either. Just a weird,  green spot surrounded by red skin that looks not unlike a tiny sun-dried tomato.

But that does not prevent her daily forays into the garden where she walks around with her head craned forward to “feel” where she’s going, and from exhibiting other persisting chicken qualities that seem to evidence a contented life.

rufinaagainI’m still surprised, and slightly in awe of this traumatized chicken who is satisfied to reside indefinitely on my studio porch. Shiny, happy chicken.

And so far, Velma the Rascally Whippet has not been the nuisance I was afraid she might be, but instead, a proud example of a bird-dog in defiance of her own natural instincts (save for one minor incident involving a tail feather. That was still attached to Rufina.). Perhaps Velma knows they are kindred spirits, she herself having survived a scary encounter with the Great Beyond earlier this year.

velmaThanks to everyone who has contributed free chicken advice, food, ER and vet consults, and even a couple of adorable, surprise chicks* (!) to keep Rufina company.

chicks*Chicks will unfortunately be dispatched to some other venue because they are exploiting their sighted advantage: stealing food out of Rufina’s mouth, crowding the water dish, and mocking her by constantly blinking and sticking their tongues out.  Also, they are filthy little creatures that walk in their own poop and then jump on me.

And finally, what’s in a name? When it became clear that chicken might live, I thought I should name her, and Rufina was the first thing that popped into my head. A few days later, I googled it to see what came up. This is what I found on Wiki:

Saints Justa and Rufina (Ruffina) (Spanish: Santa Justa y Santa Rufina) are venerated as martyrs. They are said to have been martyred at Hispalis (Seville) during the 3rd century.

Their legend states that they were sisters and natives of Seville who made fine earthenware pottery for a living, with which they supported themselves and many of the city’s poor. Justa was born in 268 AD, Rufina in 270 AD, of a poor but pious Christian family. During a pagan festival, they refused to sell their wares for use in these celebrations. In anger, locals broke all of their dishes and pots. Justina and Rufina retaliated by smashing an image of Venus.

The city’s prefect, Diogenianus, ordered them to be imprisoned. Failing to convince them to renounce their faith, he had them tortured on the rack and with iron hooks. This method also having failed, they were imprisoned, where they suffered from hunger and thirst.

They were then asked to walk barefoot to the Sierra Morena; when this did not break their resolve, they were imprisoned without water or food. Justa died first. Her body, thrown into a well, was later recovered by the bishop Sabinus. Diogenianus believed that the death of Justa would break the resolve of Rufina. However, Rufina refused to renounce her faith and was thus thrown to the lions. The lion in the amphitheatre, however, refused to attack Rufina, remaining as docile as a house cat. Infuriated, Diogenianus had Rufina strangled or beheaded and her body burned. Her body was also recovered by Sabinus and buried alongside her sister in 287 AD.

Old Master Paintings Sale Sotheby's, London - July, 4 , 2007 Velazquez (1599 - 1660) Saint Rufina Estimate: 6,000,000 - 8,000,000 Copyright in this image shall remain vested in Sotheby’s. Please note that this image may depict subject matter which is itself protected by separate copyright. Sotheby’s makes no representations as to whether the underlying subject matter is subject to its own copyright, or as to who might hold such copyright. It is the borrower's responsibility to obtain any relevant permissions from the holder(s) of any applicable copyright and Sotheby’s supplies this image expressly subject to this responsibility.
Saint Rufina, by Velázquez. See the likeness?? She’s even carrying a giant feather!

Just another name? Perhaps. Or: a dark-haired Spaniard and a Italian-New Mexican, two Christian potters separated by centuries, a saint, a chicken, and an ordinary human united in an extraordinary coincidence of the undead.

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Follow that!

Well I can’t but John Zande can.

For he was the first to leave a comment to Laura’s Rebirth post:

Here, i feel this song is in order. Listen carefully to the words, and who is singing them.

Including the following in his comment.