Archive for the 'pets' Category

Cardboard tubes

September 13, 2013

I was putting a cardboard tube from a roll of paper towel into the recycling bin and I realized that I hadn’t thought in a long time about how we used to turn it into a treat for our dog:  we’d stick a treat inside it and twist the ends closed and then toss it and he’d spend a few minutes happily ripping it apart until he got the treat out.  He ate only the treat, not the cardboard.

He died in the fall, in 2008, around the time the stock market tanked, so it’s been five years.  I found one of his rawhide chew flips underneath some furniture when I was emptying a room for re-plastering this summer.  I was surprised.  I had thought all his effects had been either thrown out or put away.

I was looking for a photo to illustrate the treat-in-the-tube.  I came across this first.  It’s from down along the Palisades in New Jersey, I think, on the grounds of an historic house museum.  I suspect the dog had been jumping around in excitement and Willy had grabbed him so the photo could be taken by my dad, but I like that he became a focal point in the picture:



Make friends with your subconscious

November 18, 2012

I should be outside pruning rose bushes, but I just wanted to write something brief using a different type of approach to, not so much the subjects of my previous two posts, but to a comment I wrote in response to one of those NYTimes sort of philosophical pieces in “The Stone” subset of their Opinionator section.

My point is about how there are multiple strands to our “selves.”  Most of us using the internet dwell (and overly so, in my opinion) in only some of these strands and may not be aware there are others.

So that’s why I called this post “Make friends with your subconscious.”  People not adverse to theism or spiritual development tend to do this through prayer and meditation, but I think other people may do it through the arts (especially music), sports, nature, communicating with pets.  I think some people may do through higher math, but I think it’s trickier to lose the intellectualizing self enough through doing that as a way to be in the strand of the self that slides around without the constraints the intellectualizing strand has.  Of course, some people do this (whether intentionally or not) in ways that cause them and others distress, and it can become extreme enough that we label it an illness (as in, mental illness) — I certainly don’t advocate doing that.

But just as we talk about parents spending quality time with their children, I think we need to spend quality time with our subconscious.


October 22, 2012

Mitik is a baby walrus who was found separated from his herd (along with another baby walrus).  He’s been transferred to the NY Aquarium recently, and the pictures and videos are really fetching.  (Here are two: one and two.)  Apparently baby walruses need to cuddle, and the way he puts his head in his human attendants’ laps reminds me of things our Standard Poodle used to do as a puppy.  He, obviously, was smaller as a youngster than a baby walrus, and he used to climb into my lap and fall asleep while being cuddled and petted.  He continued with this even after he got kind of too big to fit — I would sit on the floor with my back against a wall and he would kind of spread himself over me (he was nice and warm, since dogs have a higher internal body temperature than we do), so that’s part of why the walrus stories reminded me of this.

Okay, that’s my attempt at something more cheerful (see previous post).

Hawk on a wire

September 13, 2012

It was indeed a (big) bird on a wire.

I had taken a walk up the hill and over and around it on one of those streets that wander relative to others on more of a grid.  I wound up at St. Camillus Church near Rte 2 — I like the part of the grounds at the break in the fence near Florence Ave.  I walked up through the brief woodsy area, sat on one of the rocks, and then took the path that ends in the grass.  Then I crossed the grass, passed the kneeling bench for prayer, and walked between the buildings onto Dow to turn back towards where I live.  I took Valentine Rd. at the fork and thought about a friend of my older son’s who had lived on that street.

I saw I was going to pass a person walking his dog coming from the other direction, and the dog looked old and sweet.  It was a Collie.  I think her name was Baby and she was very sociable in a subdued sort of way.  She seemed kind of small, but her owner said it was because her hair had been cut in order to make it easier to check for ticks.

We were talking about old dog care, and then suddenly a hawk landed across the street on a telephone or electrical wire, behind him and facing me.  It was magnificent.

I pointed the hawk out to the person I was chatting with, because I would’ve felt bad not to share such a sight with someone right there but whose back was to it, and the bird flew off just after he turned around and saw it.

It was really big, pretty close, and quite beautiful with its creamy white and reddish brown stripping.  Its full and curved body shape was also striking from up so close.

It didn’t fly very far when it left, but it became hidden by the still leafy trees.

Considering all the difficult family stuff I was dealing with today, seeing a favorite bird of mine up close and in a surprising way seemed like a special treat, and I appreciated it.  (My interlocutor and I agreed we don’t enjoy watching them feeding on their prey, but they are impressive creatures.)

Yesterday I found a hawk feather on my way home from transacting some business in the center of town, and I enjoyed that kind of find as usual, but maybe more, after all that paperwork.  It had two maple polynoses attached to it near its base.

I’m not sure how to connect these two experiences, or if I should.  I was thinking later as I continued walking home after today’s that the lone feather yesterday was like a symbol of a gnostic insight, something allowed to us by the universe for our understanding but not something we actively take or pluck for ourselves.  To see its source would be quite another thing.

Addressing fear

August 16, 2012

I made a comment to a comment, this morning, to a Gail Collins column about Paul Ryan’s plans for Medicare.  I talked about the fear I perceive lying behind Republican conservatism, and how instead of working on dismantling the fear itself people try to protect against the thing they fear.  I mentioned at the end of my reply how I think liberals don’t address or effectively address conservatives’ fear.

I thought I’d elaborate here on my thoughts about effectively addressing somebody else’s fear.

For example, telling someone to stop feeling fear isn’t particularly effective, I don’t think, and it usually comes across as pretty harsh and not very compassionate, which may exacerbate a fear reaction.  Sometimes helping someone shine a flashlight under the bed helps, or explaining how others have dealt with an analogous fear gives them a needed roadmap.  Sometimes it is merely a matter of exposing the person to the thing feared, of having them taste the green eggs and ham, in effect.  Sometimes it helps for the person to identify an event or image that seems to be at the root of their fear and to re-examine that situation in order to see it differently:  maybe not all large dogs are unfriendly, and maybe even the one who seemed so was just being territorial and reacting with his own anxiety to feeling challenged, while tied up in front of the house he was trying to protect, by someone who didn’t speak “dog.”

I guess, with regard to fear, conservatives, and liberals, I might start with an issue like guns or immigration and try to address people’s fears directly, respectfully, and compassionately without contributing to them or endorsing them.  I think fears can be dismantled or at least reduced, and from that would flow a change in attitude toward the need for such hypervigilant self-protection.  I think that might change the policy debates on these issues more substantially than other approaches.


April 12, 2012

I’m trying to remember the plot of the children’s story Harry and the Lady Next Door and I can’t, except for the part that he didn’t like when the lady next door sang.

Our poodle actually liked when the child next door played trumpet, in fact he liked when our family members played music, too.  Here’s Caesar singing harmony to Jonas on sax:

There’s no Gail Collins column with a possible mention of Seamus on the roof of the Romney ‘mobile to read tonight, so I guess this is my attempt at a little canine family story to cheer myself up.

The last time

March 27, 2012

I think posting that picture of me going off to witness Robin’s wedding got me thinking to when maybe was the last time I saw her, I’m not sure.

I think she has a different husband now, and I have different children, I guess life goes on for everyone.  Here’s a picture of from the old days:

I suspect the dog is lying behind us, since she’s there in this adjacent photo:

And this is Jonas, in repose:

Speed-dating and puppies

March 23, 2012

Somebody today advised me to rethink my decision about not getting a dog right now, and to try speed-dating.

I don’t know, recently I had the experience of a man in my neighborhood walking me home from the bus we both take on Sundays and then throwing his arms around me and saying “Love, love” (he doesn’t speak English, and my Chinese is worse).  I was taken aback.  Not that speed-dating is like that, I would guess, but it certainly didn’t encourage me to put myself out there, so to speak.  I tried the dating-the-relative-of-a-trusted-friend routine a few years ago, and discovered a world of difference between the siblings — so much for the reliability of that approach.

The dog or puppy idea I just don’t think I’m ready for, but, on the other hand, puppies I hear are real good magnets for attracting dating prospects.

Before the dog became enormous

January 3, 2012

I just thought, at the risk of disappointing Tony my computer guy, I should put up this puppy picture of the poodle, to illustrate that the dog was actually supposed to be the children’s dog — Jonas (our older son) had asked for him.

Willy took this photo.


January 2, 2012

It occurred to me this morning that our dogs didn’t necessarily connect “c-a-r” with “car” so much as with getting into that thing that moved.  But they did connect both forms of reference with that thing and with coming along and going for a ride.

Here’s Exhibit A for how the poodle enjoyed the experience:

That’s him with his head out the sunroof while we were on vacation.  Perhaps someone can let Mitt Romney know that this is how we treat our dogs on vacation.