Friday, June 25, 2004

In Dog we Trust

A Dog's unconditional love saves the day!

I found this story very interesting, although not entirely surprising. Thanks to my dog and two cats, I have the privelege of three amazing inter-species friendships. I know that when I get home after a bad day, there are three warm and furry bodies who are always happy to see me, and they cheer me up instantly.
It is unfortunate that this man felt compelled to plan such an act, but I'm grateful that he met a happy pooch who turned him from his planned course of action.

**I posted this in June 2004 - but now the link for the news story is no longer active. It really was an amazing story - a man had entered a park armed with a gun, and had planned to shoot people randomly in the park, when he met a dog. He stopped to pet the dog, and the time he spent with said dog completely changed his mind about committing the crime he had planned. No wonder animals are used in therapy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Global Tribe

At times, I find that driving in rush hour traffic is an exhausting exercise in patience. As evidenced by the actions of some drivers, I’m not the only one who feels frustration at the wheel.

It seems that we feel anonymous and important while in our cars, like no one can really see us behind that clear glass. Each car becomes a microcosm, bowing to the command of those inside, their next immediate destination being an urgent objective.

I see this is just one of the many ways our loss of community manifests itself. Once we are enclosed in these capsules of metal, glass and plastic, we are immediately defensive – some go as far as becoming suddenly offensive.

When people are broken down into the individual units of self and/or family, they seem not to identify with the needs and rights of others. The objectives of my tribe become so much greater than those of your tribe, because we are separate.

Our modern world does much to single people out. For example, in a city setting, just look at how hard it is to meet and befriend your neighbors – people aren’t interested in getting to know their immediate community anymore. They have friends and family they can chat remotely with, either by phone or email/internet. As another example, jump on a city bus or train. Even if you see the same people every day for a lengthy commute, very rarely will people talk to each other, let alone even make eye contact

These are situations that seem to arise more in the cities, where people are forced to lead lonely existences in the midst of greatly concentrated populations. Isn’t it unsettling that the place where people can be the loneliest is also the place where they can be surrounded by a sea of bodies, jostling and hurrying about?

It is also in a city setting where you will find a more severe lack of respect for the safety and property of others. This is clear by looking at the number of collisions on busy highways, break-ins, theft, vandalism and assaults.

I am a strong believer that those who can’t suggest a remedy should not complain about any issue. I do admit that the scope of this problem is so huge that it isn’t likely to be solved by a few bits in a blog. I do have a couple of suggestions though:
A) If we all start to think of ourselves and others as belonging to the same great tribe, we might yet see some difference.
B) If you start to build your community from the people you find around you, others may follow your example.

Next time you’re stuck grumbling in traffic, just start to wonder about the destinations of all of the other drivers around you – and and you will see that in the minds where they reside, all of those other goals and deadlines just as important as yours.

Friday, June 18, 2004

?Fiction #763

Em lives one street over from me, and her grandmother has lived there with her family for as long as I can remember. Em and I have been friends for year, and all of the kids in the neighborhood know and love Em’s grandmother – we all call her Nana.

Nana used to to bake us wonderful treats; she made the most amazing fudge on the face of the planet. But when she started feeling sick, she began to confuse her recipes. At first, we thought she was inventing wild and wonderful creations – she had never added cereal to her fudge before, and that was pretty good. The cookies with jujubes in them were somewhat odd, but not totally distasteful. It was after the appearance of birdseed in the next batch of fudge (that and the first of many of Nana’s random disappearances) that concerned Em’s parents, and they took Nana to see the doctor.

Since then, Nana just hasn’t been herself. She has been restless, and she doesn’t know what to do with herself. Em’s Mom says she spent a lot of time sitting in the garden chattering to the birds. When Nana lived in her own house, Em said she always had a pet bird. Em’s gigantic gray cat, Zeus had kept Nana from getting a bird since she moved here. Now that Zeus was getting old, Em’s Dad doubted he could do any harm to a bird, so they decided to bring one home for Nana.

I was at Em’s for supper the night they told Nana about this idea. We were surrounded by a mosquito haze in the back yard while we had watermelon seed spitting contests - - Nana was very good at this. Em’s Dad broke the news to Nana, and I have never seen an old person so excited, she was like a little child. Her eyes were dancing and she could hardly contain herself. She immediately began a list of names, claiming that, “Of course you can never name a canary before you meet her, but it’s reasonable to have a few names on hand if you’re going to meet a bird who will need a name.”
These were the names on the list:
Sugar cube

The next night, as soon as I finished supper, I raced to Em’s house to meet Nana’s new bird. Em’s parents were going to take Nana to pick up the bird when they finished work that night.

I bounded up the front steps, and paused before I pressed the doorbell. From inside I could hear the canary’s song. Em came to the door, but she looked disappointed. She told me that Nana had taken a bus to the pet store that day while everyone was out and came home with the canary on her own.

Since Nana was so thrilled with her new friend, they decided that she had just been too anxious to wait until everyone came home that day; they just smiled sweetly when they watched the old woman and her new friend. Zeus seemed mildly interested in the new family member, and he hopped up on Nana’s lap to peer into the cage.

Nana had named the bird Sapphire, and the two of them quickly became inseparable. She would put Sapphire’s cage in the garden and chat outside with her all day, and well into the evening. “What a lovely day, eh, little Sapphie? What do you suppose those sparrows are on about over there?”

Every night, Em’s Mom would put Nana and Sapphire to bed, tucking Nana in and placing Sapphire’s cage on the dresser in Nana’s room. The last thing she’d do before closing the door was drape an old shawl over Sapphire’s cage so she wouldn’t interrupt Nana’s much needed sleep.

After about a week, Nana had changed Sapphire’s name to Saffron, claiming it had never been Sapphire, that Saffy was short for Saffron, “…Who would name a canary Sapphire anyway…” she’d exclaim.

Two weeks later, Nana went out again and came home with another canary, this one she named Filbert. Em’s parents decided that two birds shouldn’t be much more work than one, so it was okay to let her keep it. Nana sat between the two cages, twittering happily to the birds, with fat Zeus smiling lazily in her lap.

But as time wore on, Nana would make more trips to the pet store, each time returning with a new friend. There was a Clyde, a Bunch, and an Edna, among others. It seemed that while Nana was out for a walk, she’d decide she wanted a canary as a pet – and completely forget about her growing collection at home. Em said this was part of Nana’s sickness. Nana did seem embarrassed the first couple of times this happened, but as time went on, she didn’t seem to notice. She’d simply decide she wanted a bird, and upon returning home with it, she’d cheerfully introduce it to the rest of her aviary – usually changing some of the names with each introduction.

Because of this, almost our entire class had pet canaries – we even had two in our classroom. Because all of the kids liked Nana so much, they all wanted to help Em’s family find homes for all of Nana’s canaries.

One week, Nana brought home five separate canaries, and Em’s family hadn’t been able to find new homes for them fast enough. Em had put up posters at school, but the number of families looking for a free canary was seriously dwindling.

It was that week that Em came over to tell me that Nana had died. She had died quietly in her sleep, and Em’s Mom had discovered her when she went into the room to wake Nana and her birds for breakfast. Em says it’s how she would have wanted to go, surrounded by birds. When they uncovered the cages, Em said the birds sang softly for the rest of the day.

They decided to keep the last five canaries, in memory of Nana.

Zeus didn’t seem to mind.

Sunday, June 13, 2004


Check out this link for an entertaining read.

Friends and Fellowbloggers

Click here to go to Endothermal's blog

The most fabulous barefeet of all, my bella Lucy.  Posted by Hello


Ahhh, summer has arrived at long last. I took a trip to the Dominican in April, thinking it would "kickstart" my summer, but it only left me pining for the heat while the confused Canadian spring fizzled itself out. Even now, we have not yet acheived that claustrophobic, drippy-humid heat of high summer, I'm already in full summer mode.
...and it's not just me.
As soon as the temperature rises for a few days, we are quick embrace everything summer. I can't tell you how many chilly nights I've shivered while eating an ice cream cone, because, dogdammit, the snow had melted and the temperature had risen to above 15 degrees celsius! And how many of us have flung ourselves into a lake so cold we could only swim for about 10 minutes before our teeth started shattering and our lips turned blue - just because it's "summer?"
I'm certain this summer frenzy begins with the annual liberation of toes and soles everywhere. Think about it, the second you get your toes in shape for sandal weather, you don't want to wear anything but. I was shopping the other day, and the salesgirl offered me socks, "...they're 3 for 10 dollars..." Poor girl, I just looked at her and told her I didn't plan on needing any new socks for about three months.
In Canada, we spend most of the year with our feet bound up in socks (some of us wear LAYERS of socks) shoes, boots - - and don't get me wrong, I simply adore footwear! But there is something very liberating and calming about setting your feet free for a season.
I propose we celebrate this emancipation with a national holiday - national barefoot day! A day for all of us to spend with grass peeking up between our toes, or digging holes into sand with our feet (and for eating ice cream while snuggling into a cozy sweater!)
We don't typically think very much about our feet, and being barefoot in the summer is about much more than wearing pretty sandals or hanging out at the beach. Nor is it about the hottest new shades of nailpolish, or about donning toe rings and ankle bracelets. The feeling we get when we sink our toes into lush, cool grass, or hot sand allows us to confirm our connection to the earth. Also, by allowing yourself to enjoy this simple pleasure, you give yourself the time to be carefree, and childlike one more time.
So pick grass with your toes, splash in the water, run in the sand, play footsies, do a cartwheel on the lawn, and simply enjoy.
Free your feet and your mind will follow.