Tag: Jean Handover

Happy Birthday, my darling Jeannie.

Philosophising about this ageing lark!

A few days ago Jean and I listened to an episode from the BBC Radio 4 series The Art of Living. Or as the home page of the programme’s website explains, The Art of Living is a …

Documentary series revealing how engagement with art has transformed people’s lives.

Anyway, the episode that we listened to was a delightful 30-minute discussion between Marie-Louise Muir and the Belfast-born poet Frank Ormsby. The reason we selected this episode to listen to in particular is revealed by republishing how the BBC introduced the programme. (For Jean was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in December, 2015.)

Frank Ormsby’s Parkinson’s

The Art of Living

When the poet Frank Ormsby was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, his response was unexpected. He embarked on a newly fertile creative period, documenting his experiences and finding a voice in his poetry that he was beginning to lose in his daily communications.
His first act was to search Google – for jokes. “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.”

As he discusses with Marie-Louise Muir, the illness has changed him. It’s mellowed him. After a career as a school teacher, his daily life is now quieter and more solitary. There’s a poetry, almost, in his pauses and silences.
Frank belongs to the generation of Northern Irish writers that has followed in the footsteps of Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley. His medication, he believes, has aided his creativity. But it has also induced hallucinations. He finds himself sitting on his own in his study but surrounded by people, by the ghosts of his mother-in-law and unidentified visitors. And he’s also haunted by a fear that the earth will open up and swallow him.
But if you ask how he’s doing, he writes, “I’ll tell you the one about ‘parking zones disease’.
I’ll assure you that the pills seem to be working”.

Photo credit: Malachi O’Doherty, With readings by Frank himself and Ciaran McMenamin from The Darkness of Snow. Produced by Alan Hall. A Falling Tree production for BBC Radio 4.

That wonderful joke offered by Frank, this one: “Which would you rather have, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. Obviously Parkinson’s! I’d rather spill half my pint than forget where I left it.” comes a little after the 5-minute point in the interview. I strongly encourage you to listen to the full interview. Here’s the link to the radio programme.   

Jean and I were sitting up in bed a couple of mornings ago reflecting on how recent it has been since we ‘got it’ in terms of what becoming old really means. For me and Jean, for different reasons, it is only in the last twelve months that ageing, the process of becoming older, the decline in one’s faculties, and more and more, has been truly understood. Yes, before then of course one understood that we were getting old. But it was an intellectual understanding not the living it on a daily basis understanding we now experience.

Back to Frank Ormsby. Or rather to a feature in the Belfast Telegraph published in 2015.

Frank Ormsby: Life at Inst was very different from my upbringing

Leading Belfast poet and former Inst. Head of English Frank Ormsby on his tough Fermanagh upbringing, losing his father when he was 12 and how humour has helped him cope with a Parkinson’s diagnosis.

Write stuff: Frank Ormsby at his home in north Belfast

March 23, 2015

As Frank Ormsby sits in the study of his beautifully-appointed 1930s home in north Belfast there is no hint of his much more austere upbringing. As befits the workspace of a poet and long-time English teacher at one of Belfast’s leading schools, the bookcases that line the walls are crammed with a wide range of literature.
It could not be a more different environment from the rural home where he grew up just after the Second World War.

When Frank was born in 1947, his father Patrick was already in his 60s. “I remember him as an old, grey-haired man”.

It was Patrick’s second marriage. His first had produced 10-12 children. “I was never totally sure of the exact number”, Frank recalls.

“I never met them as they had dispersed to Scotland and other places by the time my father, by then a widower, had married my mother. As far as I know the last one of them died last year.”

Frank’s home was about a mile and half outside Irvinestown. His mother Anne had worked on a relative’s farm – “she could build hay or cut turf as well as any man” – and his father as a farm labourer who occasionally sought work in the factories in Scotland.

“The conditions in which we lived were lacking in luxury. We had no running water. We had to carry it in buckets from a well half a mile away. There was no electricity and it was a long time before we even had a radio, or wireless as it was called then,” Frank says.

You may read the rest of that article here.

Here’s one of Frank’s poems that was published by The New Yorker in March, 2013.

BOG COTTON

By Frank Ormsby

They have the look
of being born old.
Thinning elders among the heather,
trembling in every wind.
My father turns eighty
the spring before my thirteenth birthday.
When I feed him porridge he takes his cap off. His hair,
as it has been all my life, is white, pure white.

Maybe that’s how it is. Having the look of being born old!

But there’s one thing that I treasure beyond gold itself. Having the fortune to be living out my final days, however many there are, in the company of my beautiful Jeannie and all the loving dogs around me.

Puppy Cleo coming home – April 6th, 2012

 

Happy Birthday, sweetheart!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-Two

Of dogs, and birds, and darlings!

More of Ingo and Friends 3 plus two pics from our anniversary dinner.

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And that last photograph seems so perfect a lead-in to my final two for today. Both taken at The Schoolhaus Brewhaus restaurant in Jacksonville, Oregon where we had our anniversary dinner on the 20th.

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A beautiful lady looking down on very beautiful wife!

Picture Parade Two Hundred and Twenty-One

More from Tanja Brandt (but not entirely!)

As with last week first seen here.

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More from Tanja in a week’s time. (I presume you spotted the interloper!! Brandy having a love-in with Jean one evening a week ago just before the bedside lights were turned out.)

The ‘Dog Lady’.

The story of Paloma

Just want to go straight to what Jeannie wrote and I published back in January, 2014. There will be more memories of Paloma coming along on Monday.

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Preface.

Before I met Jean in December 2007, she had been rescuing feral dogs in the Mexican beach town of San Carlos for many, many years. Over those years, Jean must have rescued and found homes for 60 dogs or more. In the month that I met Jean, she had 12 dogs and 6 cats at her home. Ten months later, in September 2008, I flew out to be permanently with Jean with my German Shepherd, Pharaoh – that’s him on the home page of Learning from Dogs – taking the total up to 13 dogs.

When we moved up to Payson, Arizona in February, 2010 we brought all 13 dogs and 6 cats with us, much to the amazement of the US Immigration officers at the US-Mexican border town of Nogales! Indeed, our particular officer left his booth excitedly to explain to his colleagues that our dogs and cats represented a border crossing record! Paul.

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Paloma

By Jean Handover   30th January, 2014

Paloma, December 29th 2011

The old white dog padded down the dusty pavement. Sway-backed and dull-eyed, her teats, heavy with milk, grazed the ground. An anonymous creature in a cruel world. The pavement sizzled in the afternoon Mexican summer sun blistering her tired feet, but she could not hurry. She had to conserve her energy. Her pups were soon coming and finding a safe place to give birth to them was her priority. The beach that had been her home was not a good place. .. needed cool shelter. She would find it.

She was alone among a sea of human legs in this scruffy Mexican beach town. No-one noticed her plight. No-one cared. She was used to it. She had long been adept at finding dried fish, discarded tortillas, sometimes a tasty morsel thrown by a tourist sunning in front of the big hotel.

This would be her eighth litter and she was very tired. As a puppy she belonged to a family with small children. There were plenty of leftovers. But when she became pregnant they drove her to the beach, threw her out and left her to fend for herself.

Her babies were always beautiful. She had Labrador in her genes donating a coat that was pure white. Humans always took her pups; she could only ever hope their fate was always a better one than hers.

Anonymity. She had perfected the art; never make eye contact, move low to the ground, escape the stray kick with a quick sideways leap.

She remembered at the very end of the long beach there was a house with a pool. Plenty of water. Onward she padded.

The lawn surrounding the pool was moist with sprinklers and the hibiscus hedge close to the house made a safe nest. Soon she had dug into the damp earth a big enough hole to curl into; it was cool under the canopy of red flowers.

A human voiced shouted, “Carlos, get that dog out of the hedge.” Then the long hose filling that tempting pool was turned on her and a burst of water hit her in the face. She uttered a low growl. Carlos, the gardener, backed away, “Señor, the dog, she is having babies.”

The owner of the house turned abruptly and went inside. He picked up his phone, made a call to the local English lady who over the years had acquired the nickname ‘Dog Lady’. He practically shouted down the phone, “I have a dog in my hedge having pups. You had better do something about it or I shall dispose of them, and I won’t be pretty about it!”

‘Dog Lady’ was used to this. Had been many years since she took on the practically impossible task of rescuing Mexican feral dogs and she was well-known for never turning a dog away. In less than 15 minutes, she had walked to the fine house overlooking the beach and quietly looked under the hedge. As anticipated, the dog was incapable of being moved, her focus entirely now on the safe birth of her pups. With appropriate feminine wiles, the white dog’s human saviour persuaded the disgruntled owner to allow the mother dog a stay of a few days. ‘Dog Lady’ promised that she would take them away as soon as possible.

“She’s a mean and wild dog, you’ll never tame her,” came the angry response from the house owner.

‘Dog Lady’ just smiled and said nothing.

But every day she took food to the white dog then sat quietly close by on the grass reading her book. The white dog had just the one pup, which ‘Dog Lady’ called Solovino, the Spanish for ‘comes alone’. The mother dog she called Paloma, Spanish for ‘Dove’. Many white dogs in Mexico were called Paloma and maybe years earlier that was what the children named her as the name did seem to resonate with this gentle dog.

Patiently, ‘Dog Lady’ moved closer and closer until Paloma would take meat from her hand, rapidly followed by allowing her ears to be caressed. Ten days later, while Paloma was eating, ‘Dog Lady’ picked up the little Solovino and put him into her car. Paloma’s response was immediate; she frantically ran to her child, her mothering instinct so great that she leapt without hesitation into this strange vehicle. Paloma and Solovino were safe.

The house owner graciously admitted that he had been taught a lesson in empathy and how sorry he was for being so rude and cruel.

Back at ‘Dog Lady’s’ home, a quiet sanctuary for so many dogs over the past years, Paloma and Solovino were quickly settled into a cool room. Paloma soon utterly trusted her ‘Dog Lady’ human companion and became the tame and loving dog she always wanted to be. Her shining eyes embraced her new world and she even regained her figure! Solovino grew quickly and found a wonderful family home in Tucson, Arizona.

Now some 6 years after ‘Dog Lady’ rescued Paloma from under that hedge, she is a beloved part of the Handover family. Indeed, she travelled in peace in February 2009 with her twelve dog friends from her sanctuary in San Carlos, Mexico to this dog paradise in the Arizonan forest just outside Payson.

Paloma will never want again.

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Paloma never ever did want again.

Suzann’s Dog Spot – Number One: Diamonte

Finding homes for wonderful dogs.

I’m delighted to announce a new feature for Learning from Dogs, a feature that will be close to many of your hearts; of that there is no doubt.

The background.

Those who have been long-term readers of this place will have been aware that Jean and I first met in San Carlos, Mexico in December, 2007. The result of a very generous invitation from Suzann and Don Reeve for me to spend Christmas with them. Suzann being the sister of Californian, Dan Gomez, whom I have regarded as a close friend for over 35 years. I have known Suzann and Don for nearly the same time.

Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.
Suzann and Jean, Mexico, December, 2007.

Anyway, long before I came on the scene, Suzann and Jean had been working together caring for the countless feral street dogs that roam so many Mexican streets. In many cases that caring included finding new, loving homes for them in the USA. When Jean and I moved away from San Carlos in 2010, eventually ending up here in Southern Oregon almost 2 years ago, Suzann didn’t hesitate to continue caring for these Mexican dogs and, wherever possible, finding new homes for them.

Thus came the idea of promoting a wonderful dog ready for a new home here on Learning from Dogs. Who knows, maybe a reader somewhere may know of a family or a person looking for a dog and as a recent post highlighted, rescued dogs are life-savers.

Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.
Suzann caring for a feral Mexican street dog.

Thus starting today I will be promoting a particular dog that Su has sent me the details of and, hopefully, we can keep promoting a new dog every two weeks or so.

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Diamonte

by Suzann Reeve

Diamonte
Diamonte

Each day I travel to La Manga, a part of San Carlos, Mexico, to feed at least a dozen dogs, frequently more; plus two old men every day! I need to stop off at the market several times a week for food for both species!

One day, about five weeks ago, I happened to see a Mommy dog and her teenaged pup in the middle of the road. I got out of my car and called them over, hoping they would get clear of the flow of traffic. Thankfully that happened and they quickly came close to take advantage of a bowl of food and some water that I put in front of them. It was wonderful to see the mother move away so her pup could eat first.

A few days later I returned and was delighted to see the mother and puppy again. Once more I put down food and water and, again, the mother dog held back to let her puppy feed before her.

Several days later, yes, you guessed it! Once more I put out food and water, although this time I never actually saw Momma dog eat.

A further two weeks went by before I saw them both. But this time, Momma dog was not well. She crept over to lay under a car while her daughter ate the food I put out. Then a few days after noticing the unwell mother dog, I returned and knew there was a problem. There was a message I was picking up from the mother dog. She seemed to be saying to me that she wanted me to take her puppy. So I did.

I picked up the young puppy and put her in my car. As I did so, Momma dog slowly lifted herself up, went over to my car, sniffed one door and then went around to the other side and sniffed that other door. She then looked at me as if to say thank you.

Momma dog then wandered off and lay down in the shade on the other side of the door, never eating a thing. She watched me drive out of the parking lot and I have never seen her there again.

Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.
Who could resist such a lovely open, happy face! Please find a home for Diamonte.

Diamonte is a happy, bouncy little girl, presently at about 30 lbs and my guess is that she will be around 40lbs at full growth. She is a very sweet dog, always wanting to please and I regard her as a sunny and bright little girl. Diamonte is as cute as a button, with a dash of freckles over her nose. She is a quick learner and would be a lovely pet for a family or an active single person or couple.

She will receive her 2nd puppy vaccination on the 20th August and hopefully before then she will be spayed.

Note from Su:

With any dog that is ready for a new home, I always try to get the dog spayed or neutered here in San Carlos together with any necessary vaccinations.

Regarding getting the dog to you, the new owner, there are a few regular people who drive to AZ that could hook up with you or with someone who could take it on another leg in it’s journey.

There are some pilots who also fly dogs from point A to point B as well as people who would transport a dog by car in a similar manner. It all depends on networking, trying to find the right person at the right time, activities that must be done by the rescuer as well as the adopter. In other words, a joint effort to try to find a way to get the dog to you. It can be done with people who are tenacious.

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If Diamonte pulls at your heartstrings or you know of someone who may feel likewise, leave a short response to this post and I will put you in direct contact with Suzann. Thank you.

Oh, just to help those heartstrings along, here’s a repeat of a picture from last Sunday.

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