Thursday, August 27, 2009

Time on Julie & Julia

I read a thoughtful review of the movie "Julie & Julia" in Time magazine the other night. The review was written by Mary Pols. The writer was somewhat harsh to writers of lesser talents, but true and honest. She was describing the abilities of Julie Powell, as well as the movie's portrayal of her as driven by the desire to compete with her friends and obtain recognition, as compared with the success of Julia Child, which was driven by her inner fountain of talent and joy in what she did. Ms. Pols writes: "There are memoirists like Child who write about what made them famous, or infamous. There are unremarkable people who write about a remarkable thing that happened to them. And then there is the 21st century memoirist, who makes him- or herself interesting in order to write about it, usually through a time-centric gimmick, like spending a few months at, say, an ashram." Ouch! Has anyone read Julie Powell's book and felt the same? Or perhaps, Elizabeth Gilbert's book?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I am back from my trip to Florida for my daughter's baby shower, feeling ripe from the infusion of love. I got the opportunity to see all of my children together, happy, and laughingly happy to be with each other. I got to be loose and silly and singy with my granddaughter, and feel the elbows and heels of my granddaughter to be. I got to meet warm and generous friends. What a great trip!
I even got to sink into the Florida August - similar to New Hampshire Augus - yet more vibrant and moist. That joint-loosening, hair dampening, skin glistening, languorous, sensuous heat. Puddles from passing thundershowers steaming in the sun. Brilliant bright sunlight and colors, and icy air conditioning and tile floors cold on the soles of your feet. That was my Florida this trip. I'll ask my kids if it is okay with them to publish a picture of the three of them together in these days.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Goodbyes

Beau continued to go downhill during the night. We were able to get him to the vet's first thing this morning and release him from his pain. Goodbye Beau.
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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The other Journey

Our Golden Retriever, the one with lymphoma, is going downhill more quickly than I had anticipated. It has been a few weeks of unexpected emotion. We are animal lovers, I would say, yet had not elevated the importance of our pets beyond deep fondness, I guess love, appreciation, protectiveness, and wish to take good care of them and give them good lives. Beau was the largest example of that, as our adopted, rescue dog. I've described our challenges with him, I think, along with my concern that he would possibly hurt a child somewhere along the way (he was aggressive towards small children) if we were not careful. Then he was diagnosed with this cancer. Another dog of ours has been living with cancer for nearly two years, and is fine (another story). Perhaps I was in denial. But when Beau got sicker so fast, I was very impacted by his decline. Seeing him weak and wobbly when just a week, even a few days ago, he was running around, stealing the stick away from my dog as usual, brought the fragility of life right to my face. He is a very joyful dog and seemed to love his life here. I wish I had taken a picture of him lying on the floatie in the pool, keeping cool in the hot afternoon. It was just this past Saturday, and tonight he can not quite stand. I am crushed that he is losing his happy existence; he reminds me that death is inevitable even for me. Tonight when I got home from work, he seemed fairly energetic. We got a ball and headed outside to see if he could run after it a bit. I tossed the ball just behind him, so he would not have far to go. But, Lisbon, the jealous alpha dog, came out of nowhere and attacked him, biting him over and over. I finally got Lisbon off of Beau, and closed him into the house. I got Beau up on his feet, gave him the ball, and tried to soothe him over. He suddenly got a strange look in one eye - it is hard to describe - like it disconnected from him. I do not mean it separated physically, I mean it did not seem to coordinate with him. Then he stopped walking, turned down his head, started shaking all over, and crumbled down to the ground. (Sigh) So, here we are, trying to do what we can to make him feel better: hand feeding him some food (he was interested), water, carrying him outside to pee, pain meds, and carrying him upstairs and onto the bed. I do not understand. He has a shallow bite wound, but no physical injury from the fight that would cause this. I am guessing that he was already so physically compromised by his illness, that the attack was very stressful to his body. Emotionally, I was so distraught at seeing him attacked like that, I felt ill myself. sick at his suffering; sick at the apparent cruelty; sick with anger. The vehemence of my anger at the dog who attacked him was so strong it surprised me (he's just a dog, after all - he did not understand). If I had something heavy within my reach at the time, I may have even hurt him, I was so angry. Where did that come from? So, all of this longer than really necessary story is about ... life, and its loss, the effect a creature can have on me, how I am more susceptible to it than I thought (Beau has really been a pain the neck at times). Also, I have been extremely fortunate in my life in that I have not suffered any significant losses. So, I feel this. I recognize that this is a dog, who would have died several years ago if we had not adopted him, whom I myself had considered putting down when he nearly attacked my infant granddaughter. I know others have suffered from MUCH more significant, soul crushing, life altering losses. That is not this. Yet, I feel this. This creature who has endured suffering at the hands of his former owner, and possessed his own grace and sweetness despite it, has given a lot of himself in the few years we have had him. He deserves acknowledgement. He will be missed.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

On becoming...

...a sailor. Even claiming it here seems more than I deserve, a little self aggrandizing. But, I guess if I am in a sailboat and somehow or other maneuvering it through the water and actually getting from one place to another, then I am.
(I was not able to quite capture the serene mountain setting of this lake - I will keep trying.)
I also like the "becoming" part. Isn't it hopeful? And true. We are all becoming one thing or another. We are can not be static. If nothing else, then we are becoming decrepit, right? But, I love knowing that I am becoming ... smarter, wiser, stronger and am acquiring skills and experience in more and more things. That's what new experiences give you.
(Posing next to our little boat while the Mount Washington pulls out of the dock behind me.)

Update

FIRST - I must give credit for the photo leading my last post. I received several compliments, thank you, but it was taken by my daughter. I'm sorry that I had not noted it in my post. SECOND - In a few days I will be off to see said daughter and pictured granddaughter, AND my other daughter and granddaughter to be (8 months pregnant) for her baby shower. Yippeee! Heavy workload here, as well as weekend days taken sailing on our little boat. Photos and more in a bit....

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Do unto others...

I have been thinking quite a bit lately about the way people treat each other, and the way I want to treat other people. Most of me, or the spiritual part of me, believes in a generous approach to people. I believe in idea that there is some measure of good in everyone, and as Randy Pausch said, if you are patient, you will find it. I believe in maintaining an openly, expectant happiness to discover the humanness of each person I meet, like the Dalai Lama. Even aspire to love my neighbor, as Jesus taught.
I know that the world is so full of kindness, altruism, sacrifice for others, heroics. There is such power in what we can do for others and the world!
On the other hand...oh, there are so many other hands. People can be real jerks, and worse. In my line of work, I see people selfishly hurting others regularly, people hurting children, too. I see smirks of pleasure and gloating at another's pain, meanness, dishonesty. I just want to "call 'em like I see 'em" and dismiss that human being, that life. No patience; no understanding; no acceptance. I want to assign consequence for the darkness that humans can spread on to others.
Just on Monday, I dealt with one person taking a child from the other parent through the use of mistatements to authorities - and watch the vicious giggles at the anguish he caused. The same day I dealth with a sexual assault on an eight year old daughter. More the same day a person maliciously withholding money owed to another, while they fall more and more ill with stress and poverty. All that pain purposefully, even gleefully inflicted from "human" to human. My resolve to look for the good crumbles.
I should know that life, lives, being human after all, is just not that black and white. Yet, I still struggle at reconciling the two perspectives. I don't know why. What are your thoughts?
And why the picture above? It doesn't really have anything to do with this topic, except way down inside me. The meaning of life in some way always comes down to one's children and grandchildren. Here is my granddaughter, joyously and unselfconsciously skipping through the maze of her life towards her future.