Sometimes Red comes over to Maria when she is working on her new fiber chair, he offers encouragement and some companionship. Maria kisses him on the nose and resumes work.
I want to put my money where my mouth is, rather than put my mouth on Facebook or in front of a TV screen watching angry people shout at one another. I wish for my country that people would shut up and stop whining and go and actually do something about the world, rather than telling other people what to do about the world, and making them feel fearful and small.
Where did I put my money today?
On six colorful Ikea bowls for $11.97 that I purchased on an Amazon Page set up so we can put some blankets, towels and utensils and other inexpensive but essential things on the tables and in the apartments of newly arriving refugees. It is a great way to give.
Thanks to many of you, these families will have blankets and towels and soap and plates when they arrive later this week. The U.S.Committee on Refugees and Immigration has set up the Amazon page to make it so simple to help these needy people. They are all here legally looking for nothing more than safety and work. Many have been through a terrible time.
For me, this is not a time for argument, it is a time to step outside of myself, do good and to listen and learn.
These people truly need help, and it has never been cheaper or easier to give it. They are not here to harm us, but to join us in the great American Experiment, the reason all of us are here.
We know precisely where the money is going and what it is going for. There are many good volunteers waiting to bring it to the apartments waiting for the refugees, and make them see what America is really like – it is a good and generous place.
They don't need arguments. They need plates and blankets and forks and spoons. They need to cope with their first winter, and it is an upstate New York winter, the real thing. Several hundred people are coming to this area and nearby Vermont. The first thing many will see are our gifts to them, we are keeping the torch on the lady lit.
These are families who have lost everything, fulfilling their dreams of coming to America at a difficult time, fearful about seeing if the American Dream is for real. It is, your donations are filling up the USCRI warehouse near Albany, the volunteers are said to be in a tizzy, they never expected to be able to help so much so soon.
A friend of mine was ranting on Facebook yesterday about how he hated CNN, how it was "fake news," and biased and stupid. It made him crazy to watch it, he said. His friends were all piling on, one outraged message after another. I could not help myself, since I am fond of him and know him to be a good person, I messaged him and asked "why are you watching it if it makes you angry? Why not go out and do your good thing, whatever it is?"
What good, I wonder, has ever been done by arguing on Facebook.
He did not, of course, answer.
I am spending no time arguing on Facebook or watching any cable news, not a second of my life – I don't know anyone who watches cable news who is not angry and losing their rational brain cells. There is just nothing there for me. I long for the day when people stop feeling sorry for themselves, angry and aggrieved and victimized and simply go out into the world and do something constructive. Life is too precious for this.
For me, my values are not arguments for other people, they are just my values, no better or worse than anyone else's.
I have no interest in fighting with anyone about them, or telling them what to believe, and I am generally am not interested in whether strangers approve about what I think and believe. I'm not running for office, or offering a vote on my beliefs.
I don't think Emerson or Thoreau worried about that too much either.
I love the attitude of Thoreau, he believed as I do that you are simply not alive if you are not making someone uncomfortable or getting them to think. You learn to think for yourself and stand in your truth. I see no real thought, either on cable news or Facebook. The people addicted to these forms of expression, seem miserable, they will not ever be happy, peaceful or well-informed, I think.
I prefer to ask myself every day what good can I do for someone. I felt very good when I ordered those colorful Ikea bowls.
It makes me feel good to think of an immigrant family, frightened and bewildered as my grandmother was, sitting down to eat in red, blue and yellow bowls that were hardy and very inexpensive to buy. Nothing could be easier, and instead of being angry and frustrated or fearful, I feel great. Good, worthwhile and hopeful.
I highly recommend the experience. Feeling good is better than feeling bad, doing good is better than arguing with strangers or watching something you will never like. Thanks to those many good people who have already helped. The items are very useful and inexpensive, you can buy things for as little as $ 7 or as much as $30. (If you donate, please mark the gift: ATTN Jake, if possible) He is the warehouse manager.
Tomorrow I might buy the soap, which many of the families need. 22 bars of Dial soap cost $15.00. Happiness and peace of mind have never been cheaper or easier.
The bog is a bar and restaurant, but also more than that, it is a place of friendship and connection. Kelly Nolan is at the heart of it, she has lived in our small town her whole life and she is one of those people who makes friends and keeps them.
They often to come eat or drink at the barn and talk to her in the few and rare moments when she is not working. One night when Kelly is off, she came to the Bog with some friends to watch a Zombie show on cable.
Last night, the Bog was uncharacteristically quiet, a snow and sleet Northeaster was creeping in, and Kelly came over to say hello to one of her friends. Kelly's friends are often at the Bog, they cheer me on when I take her photos and their love for one another is palpable.
They are safe with one another, at ease, it always touches me.
It's odd, I avoided the blog for years, it had a reputation as a biker bar that was not always friendly to outsiders, but that was completely wrong. I was welcomed there from the first, and Maria and I feel completely at home there. The bog is a place of friendship, and there not many better places to be on a snowy, sleety and dark winter night in upstate New York.
I liked this portrait of friendship. Her friend does not like to be photographed, she was happy to do it for Kelly.
We went to the Bog for dinner last night, and saw Kelly there. As we left – it was a dog and foggy night, some sleet and wind – I turned and saw the Pabst sign in the window, another lit stained glass Michelob light hanging over the barn. The two made a touching still life, I thought, they captured the feel of this cozy place.
I was brushing Lulu and Fanny yesterday while Maria was brushing Chloe and I could see how much alike these two independent and stubborn creatures are. Chloe wanted to eat, Maria wanted to brush all of the mud off of her. Mud season seems to have come early here.
Chloe, impatient for hay, kept stomping her feet, swinging around, moving back and forth, Maria never wavered, she stomped back, moved with her, kept on brushing until Chloe was smooth and clean.
I remember back to when I met Maria and her ferocious dog Frieda tried repeatedly to eat me and drive me off. Why, I wondered, would someone get a dog that was such a handful, and so difficult to control? Then it hit me, of course, they were just alike, and those traits were precisely the reason Maria did get her and love her.
In the final analysis, we get the dog we want, we get the dog and other animals we need.
Every dog we get is the dog we need, and quite often, we make them that way, dogs survive and find safety in this world by becoming what they sense their humans want them to be.
Orson was the spark plug that got me out of a life I didn't wish to be in.
Rose was the pioneer and brave dog who watched my back as I struggled to learn how to live on a farm.
Izzy was the dog who brought me to hospice and therapy work, and a better understanding of my own mortality.
Frieda was the dog I needed to get Maria to trust me.
Simon was an animal who changed my ideas about openness and trust.
Red is the dog I need now, quiet, intelligent, able to enter my live and move it forward. Red inspires and guides me.
And in Chloe (and Fate) Maria has the animals she needs, strong, rebellious, independent creatures who have big hearts, their own agendas, and a keen distaste for being told what to do.