Saturday, December 16, 2006

Mr. Rags

Mr. Rags (sitting up) with Josie

This morning I received a message from a friend:

Dear Friends -

It is my sad duty to inform you that Mr. Rags died during the night from complications of congestive heart failure. We think he was about 17. He was not alone when he died, nor was he in pain; he went the way we had hoped he would. The best memorial gesture one could make is to do something to help an abandoned pet, for that is what Rags was when he came to me 14 years ago. I will miss him terribly, but I know that his sufferings are over and he is at rest.

Thank you for your concern for him over the years.


Our pets understand us in ways our human friends do not. We share our deepest concerns and feelings with them, and in turn they give us unconditional love, share their joy in living, and stay loyally at our side through thick and thin.

Ironically, last night in the barn my horse Heidi's winter coat was slicked down from the rain (she loves to be outdoors no matter what the weather), and I noticed how thin she is despite recent generous feedings of grain. Her personality has changed ever so slightly as well, and those observations led my mind to the day many years ago when I first saw her standing proud and beautiful across an open pasture. I knew I was hooked, knew she was going to be part of my life. And I knew that day and that image was the high point: there would someday come the other day, the day when I'd have to say goodbye, very probably a day when I would have to say to a person with a gun or a needle, "Yes. Do it." Anyone who has loved a pet knows what a difficult and painful decision that can be, and I returned to the house somewhat heavy-hearted.

A dog's emotions are so freely expressed, so honest, so transparent. Perhaps that's why I can be sad but rational at funerals or upon the death of a human family member but cry uncontrollably over the death of a dog. Or perhaps that dog's last loving purpose is to allow us to release - as they do - our innermost feelings, to cleanse our hearts of sorrow stored in them.

Mr. Rags was blessed. He lived to a ripe old age with his people, knowing love, kindness and comfort. He asked for little more than company and kibble, and he gave his heart and soul in the way that only a dog does.

"Good dog, Rags."

"Sit. Stay. Stay here in my heart for the rest of my life."

My deepest sympathy to John and Joan.

Now go to: Musical Tribute to Rags

Thursday, December 14, 2006


Woody Allen’s thriller, Match Point, is about luck. (The protagonist’s baby is born and wished “luck” which, after sitting through the lengthy lead-up to the movie’s end, we understand is the best thing a person can hope for). Some people have it; some don’t. It seems to me that most of us are luck-neutral and pass through life’s ups and downs without much thought about them being more than “life” itself.

I have a child who is lucky. In many ways, he makes his own good fortune because he is brighter than most, a social mensch and in most other ways quite able. The world is his oyster. He never thought about any of this while he was growing up, for it no doubt seemed to him that he was no different than any of his friends and acquaintances. The awareness of his luck came gradually sometime during his twenties after a string of serendipitous events landed him in the enviable position of earning a six-figure salary doing a job he absolutely loves – despite being a history major.

Now, at age 29, he has begun to think about this girl called Lady Luck. Although previously taken for granted, he begins to appreciate her part in his life, and - like a lover who has become too comfortable in his love affair - begins to consider what it might mean to lose her. This new awareness doesn’t hang heavy on him, but perhaps it is beginning to slightly color his decision-making. Maybe that’s a sign of maturity. Maybe it’s a good thing; but if one stops taking good luck for granted - if one settles for present comfort rather than risking the unknown (and the chance that his luck will run out) - does life cease to be serendipitous?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Now You See Them...

Then you click the camera shutter...

...and then it's back to decorating the Christmas tree. Be sure to click on the top photo to see it enlarged. These two are really cute. (But of course you can't see all the brussels sprouts in their bellies).

This morning Dirk wrote, “It must be a surprise every time you open the door,” which reminded me of the night I opened the front door to put some cat food in the bowl on the top step and found myself face to face with a very chubby raccoon who was cleaning up the last of my previous fill-up. We were inches apart, and my instinct was to immediately (and quickly) close the door! Brain clicked again saying, “Hey – cool!” and I reopened it as rapidly as I had shut it, but in that nano-second, the raccoon was gone. It was as though I had imagined him.

One summer evening my husband also had a surprise upon opening the door. I was staying in the Ronald McDonald house in Buffalo at the time and had left him in charge of the horses. It was 11PM and he was just settling down for the night when he heard something large splashing across the pond behind the house. Knowing that was not a place the horses should be, he jumped into his jeans, grabbed a flashlight, and headed out the door in the direction of the racket, but once in the open air, he realized that things had gone quiet. He stood still, listening, and then heard the munching of leaves about fifteen feet from where he was standing. He focused the flashlight beam on the sound as he moved closer, and then, slowly, a large snoot emerged from the tree cover... More of it appeared, followed seconds later by a huge rack of antlers: he was face to face with a bull moose! Each of them had the same thought: Yikes! Husband beat a retreat to the house while Moose whirled and thundered off into the woods.


Who's there?

Deer and Moose.

Deer and Moose who?

Deer me, I Moose be going.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Well, Deer...

"Well, Deer, we each have our own perspective."

I just can't resist putting this one up here. You are seeing the view from just inside my porch door. The truck and snow are "real" (i.e. that's a true view of the scene in that direction), but the well (seen in lower right window pane of door) and the deer in the asparagus bed (upper pane) are reflections. Got it? If Blogger is in a good mood, you should be able to click on the picture to enlarge it. I have done no editing - this was the "reality" greeting me this morning.