11 January 2017

Fate And The Parakeets: The Mansion

The Mansion: Parakeets

Fate was visiting the Mansion residents in the Activity Room when she suddenly heard the Mansion's two parakeets chirping away. She turned, froze and stared. I was grateful for the leash, although she didn't lunge or jump. She stared for a long time, and then I walked her out and we visited some of the residents in their rooms.
Knowing Fate, she will check out the parakeets every time we visit.

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Fate Goes To The Mansion

Fate At The Mansion

I believe dogs rise to the opportunities offered them, they deserve a chance to succeed at things we don't necessarily believe they can do. Fate has not worked out as a herding dog, she is simply too sweet and loving. She lacks the will to stalk and push. She adores people,  but I have always believed she is too excitable to do therapy, and she still has a tendency to jump up on people when she first sees them.

This has been a difficult habit to break her off, although she calms down after a minute or two. Her instincts to greet are sometimes overwhelming. But her love of people moved me to take her to the Mansion today – under very close supervision – to see if therapy work might turn out to be right for her.

I was dubious. She does not have the calm or stillness or focus of Red, she is a good-time girl, distractable and excitable. She has the same quality as Red does of being trustworthy – she is not aggressive in any way. I can't imagine her in hospice work.

In the Mansion, the residents are mobile, but some are frail, and I have a zero tolerance policy for mistakes in dog therapy work, the last thing the people we work with is to be pushed or knocked over. So I brought a short leash and kept her on it, and stayed several feet from her. If this works, I will continue working and training with Fate. Perhaps she can be accredited one day as Red was.

She was excited to come to the Mansion, the residents loved her. She started to jump on on the staff, but I was quick with the leash and sharp voice commands. She was anxious at first, unsure what the work was. It takes time to train a therapy dog to recognize that the people are the work, that must be reinforced over time.

Fate went into a melt when she saw people, wriggling towards them on the ground, tail wagging. She ran into Barbara in the activity room and walked up to her and put her head in her lap. She kept it there awhile, until she discovered the two parakeets in their cage. I have a photo of that coming up.

We visited four or five people, including Barbara,  Connie and Madeline and Peggy and Aileen and John K. and Sylvie. Fate's attention span was short, but she was beginning to focus on the people at the end of our visit. They were thrilled to see her and picked up on her sweetness and enthusiasm, and they loved her blue Pirate Eye.

We will need a lot of work if this is to work. I kept her close to me on a short leash and took no chances. Given the strangeness and the number of people and the fact that this was completely new work for her, she did very well. I"m going to keep it going and see what happens. A good therapy dog is intuitive,  they connect appropriately with the people who need them, and they sense frailty and pain.

I enjoyed taking Fate she did well, especially for the first time.

Red knows if a patient is hurting, he approaches very slowly and never jumps up. I want to see if Fate has these gifts, many border collies do. I have not seen Fate as a therapy dog, but I am beginning to think I ought to pursue it, put my training shoes on. I take no chances with therapy dogs, no risks.

I may have failed to teach her how to herd sheep, but I might be able to train her to be an accredited therapy dog.

I think it's 50-50 at best. Several of the Mansion residents asked if she could come back. Several asked when Red was coming back.

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Passage To India: The True Story Of A Special Quilt (Sold)

I called this quilt the "India Quilt," Maria calls it the "Surrender Quilt," her trip to India has gotten very much into her head lately, and she surrendered to it rather than worry about it, and this beautiful creation came out, it's colors and patterns are so different  it evoked India to me, but I am not the artist.

In  this video – the quilt was sold in seconds – Maria explains how this warm and beautiful art came to be, and how it spring from feverish thoughts in the middle of the night to her Studio. The story of a special quilt in the artist's words. Something special happened here, I can only imagine what will happen when she gets back from Kolkata in late February.

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Fate To The Mansion?

Fate and Red have been cooped up in the house for days, it has been so cold and there was so much ice and snow. Today, the temperature came up to 45, much of the ice melted, and I took the dogs out to the rear pasture to let them stretch their legs and burn up some energy. Fate, in particular, was about to jump right through the window. Now, onto the sheep.

I'm thinking of take Fate to the Mansion to try her out on some therapy work. She is too excitable as a rule, but maybe I can calm her down a bit. She loves people very much, and I have the feeling they would love her there. We'll see. If it works out, I'll take her to get certified as a therapy dog. That will not be easy.

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Why Donald Trump Cannot Be In My Head For Years

Is Donald Trump In Your Head?

I leave it to the pundits and the warriors of the left and the right to decide what kind of President Donald Trump will be. I hope he is a successful President who does at least some of what he says, and brings good jobs back to America, I hope he decides to unite us as well as divide us. I wish him no harm.

None of us succeed if our leaders fail.

I am not a Christian, but I believe I understand better than many who say they are devout Christians what it  means to be a Christian. I practice empathy and patience and hope, not argument and judgment and hate. I would love to feel great again.

What I do know about Donald Trump is that he loves himself, cannot bear scrutiny or criticism, and often speaks in a hateful and divisive way. He does, in fact, argue like a 9-year-old in a Middle School playground, and as he often points out, a lot of people like it.

Many people love him, and many people fear him. As a leader, that would make me uncomfortable. But he is not uncomfortable, he is clearly a genius at understanding media, and an addict for attention.

He seems unable to live without it. That, unfortunately, places him in the center of the consciousness of many people, he is in many heads, and every time I glance online, I see people who have better things to do wrestling with this thing that seems imprisoned in their minds.

They can't get him out of their heads, and since he is never quiet, that is a spiritual as well as a psychic challenge.

Because whether or not he will be a good President, it is clear he will be a very angry and often cruel one. And he spouts more self-serving bull than I can bear to be in my head for four years.

The hallmark of the people who label themselves as being on the left and the right is obsessive and eternal argument. Once you label yourself, change and growth and connection becomes almost impossible, except with the like-minded. Labeling is a disease, and one of its symptoms is small mindedness.

Our new President is a carrier of extreme labeling, he hates ideas that are different from his, he is a creature of the new politics, his very veins and mind tap into the new and polarizing Matrix of our civic life.

He was inevitable.

You are, after all, what is in your head. If I keep watching that stuff, that will be in my head, that will be me.

In America, less than one half of eligible voters voted in November.  Of those, 25.6 voted for Hillary Clinton, 25.5 for Donald Trump. About 90 per cent of  people are on Facebook. We are what we show up for.

But my response to him – and all of this anguish and controversy –  being in my head is not inevitable. I won't let it happen, it is them or me, literally.

Our politics now are the opposite of truth and knowledge.

I have never known a truly intelligent or thoughtful person who didn't know how to listen, or say "I don't know. You may be right." Labeling myself is the fastest way I could imagine to being stupid. It is literally the opposite of thinking.

From my perspective, Donald Trump has gotten into the heads of too many people whose heads deserve better than having this often disturbing life force embedded in their brains. How about meditating instead, or walking the dogs, or hiking in the woods?

This morning, this almost happened to me, when I was curious about Mr. Trump's press conference and his response to the suggestion the Russians had compromised him beyond anything George Smiley imagined at MI6.

I was writing, and writing well, and I did not imagine I would feel good or enlightened after listening to yet another Trump rope-a-dope or lecture on his own greatness. There are a wall of angry illusionists all around him, he is their Great Wizard.  I watched for a half hour, and I swear I felt him literally popping up around my ear and heading for the passageway that led to my brain.

I cherish my head, it is my creativity, my work, my livelihood. I don't care to share it with anybody else, or permit anyone else to drive me onto Facebook all day, spouting my frustration and rage.

I can only imagine what my head – or my blog and books – would be like if I let this stuff inside of it for months or years. There are no ear plugs big enough to keep all of this bullshit out of my head, so I will have to do it myself, and be disciplined and steady and strong. And I will be, I love writing every bit as much as Donald Trump loves himself.

I had a revelation. I turned off the live feed of perpetual disturbance, the journalists huffing, the panelists arguing, the Trump dissembling, the flunkies flunking, and I  swatted at my ear, to get the thing away. I took my camera and went out to the pasture with the dogs.

When I came back it was over. I glanced at the news. I hadn't missed one single thing. It is, of course, a circus, an incestuous show and you have to be a clown or a juggler to get inside of the ring. I don't wish to get in. Maria came in to tell me she had just sold another quilt, minutes after sharing it on her blog. I'd rather be proud of her for that than raging against Donald Trump on Facebook or Twitter.

We have in our country embraced the idea that if you can go on TV or Facebook and scream at one another, then we are vibrant and free. But we are neither vibrant or really free. For me, listening to this is just another kind of prison. I intend to be free.

So I went back to work. And my head was not full of posturing and bravado and outrage, but sheep and donkeys and dogs and a warm and sunny day. For a writer, that is what ought to be in my head.

It is a dreadful thing for me to let somebody who is shameless and selfish and angry into my head, it is my sacred space.

Especially for four controversial and very loud years. It is just not the way I wish to live. When the time comes, I will do what needs to be done, I will do good whenever I can do. I believe there will be an  Army Of Good all around me.

I leave the politicians and reporters and the panelists and legislators and lobbyists and posturers to their work.

And my head to its work.


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