17 April 2017

Red At Work

By: Jon Katz

Red At Work

It never ceases to surprise me the way Red can be at the Mansion with his head on people's knee for an hour, and then come to the farm and into the pasture and sit for an  hour with his eyes fixed on the sheep. Most dogs I know were good at one or the other thing, Red shifts gears easily.

In the Mansion and other therapy work, Red is as focused as a laser on the people he is seeing, in the pasture, he is just as focused. If I left him out there, I'm convinced he would starve to death before moving. I love his work ethic, I try to emulate it.

Posted in General

Art Class At The Mansion. Professor Wulf.

By: Jon Katz

Art Class

This is art month at the Mansion, the Mansion Art Show will be held next Wednesday.

As part of the month, various artists have come in to show and talk about their work. Maria came in today, she brought her sewing machine, and the idea was that the residents (using the art tools you sent them) would draw and sketch ideas, and she would sit with them, watch them, and free-form draw them on her sewing machine.

The residents were into it, they all sat around the room and sketched their ideas and maria stitched them onto squares of fabric. Their sketches were inventive and surprising. Maria will return next week to help them turn these squares into pillows, so that the resident artists can hold and see and even lie on creations of their own.

I enjoyed sitting back and watching Maria and her loving and easy way with the students. We feel very close to them, and they seem to love and trust us.I get hugs all over the place at the Mansion, and not too many people want to hug me.

Maria has a gift for this work, one of the residents told her the same story over and over again for nearly an hour, and each time she heard it, Maria smiled and laughed and looked mesmerized, as if she was hearing it for the first time. I wonder if I have that patience.

It was a great class, fun and easy and creative.

The sketches were compelling, they said a lot. Next Wednesday, each resident will chose a piece of their art to hang in the Mansion Art Show. The first, second and third place winners will get lunch at the Round House Cafe. Other prizes will be gift certificates at Battenkill Books and some beads and bracelets from Over The Moon on Main Street.

Posted in General

Connie’s Easter Surprise

By: Jon Katz

Connie's Easter Surprise

When I got to the Mansion today, Connie leaned over and said she had a surprise, she wanted me to make sure I came to visit her in her room. Red and I did come over and she took out her surprise, a soft rabbit and a lamb, both sent her for Easter.

They say that the aging often feel some of the same emotions as children, and I see every day how much it means to them to have something soft and furry to hold and have near. It is comforting and calming. Connie was very happy to get these gifts for Easter, they are right by her chair where she can see them and touch them.

She wanted me to make sure to thank the person who sent it, I said I had no idea who sent it, but I would pass along her thanks on the blog. Thanks from me too. These two creatures are special and will be much loved in their new home. You can write to Connie c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Street, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

And thank you.

Posted in General

From The Army Of Good, The Mansion Eggs For Easter

By: Jon Katz

From The Army Of Good

I was away Friday when the Mansion Assisted Care Facility held it's annual Easter party, but everyone was still talking about it when I got there today. Everyone got between six and ten letters and messages, there were flowers, cakes, puzzles, games, chocolate, cookies, gifts, photos, poems from Middle School kids,  and there were eggs – painted eggs, soaps, lotions, embroidered and knitted and sparkling and beaded eggs.

And some stuffed and soft rabbits and lambs.

The eggs you sent were so beautiful they were saved in bowls and kept in the kitchen and set out on dining room tables so everyone could see them every day, at every meal. It was touching to see them there, so thoughtful, so beautiful, so creative. They meant a lot to the residents, to me, to everyone who has seen them.

I thank your yet another holiday you enriched for people on the edge of life, and I heard from everyone how much the letters and gifts and eggs meant to them.

I'll put up a few more photos tonight and tomorrow. We don't have any holidays coming up until July Fourth, but if you wish to continue this extraordinary string of generosity and compassion – you have brightened and lifted a lot of lives – you can write the Mansion residents c/o 11 S. Union St., Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

The residents who have asked to receive your kindness are Bruce W., Allan H., Sylvie, Jean G., John R., John Z. Alanna, Peggie, Ellen, Joan, Brenda, Connie, Alice, Madeline, Mary,  Barbara, William, Brother Peter, Diane, Helen, Jean, Tim, Gerry, Anita, RIchard.

I am proud and grateful for the Army of Good, a powerful force that does not argue or attack, but simply does good. There is nothing more powerful than that.

I took this basket of your beautiful eggs and everyone wondered how you all possibly did all of this, and I sat alone with it for five or ten minutes in the empty dining room. There is something very powerful about these eggs, they carry some magic with them. Thanks again.

Posted in General

Breakfast Talk

By: Jon Katz

Talking To Animals

Almost everyone talks to their animals, especially if they have pets or farm animals. Maria makes it a habit of talking to the sheep every day while they are eating, and this, we find, is a good way to get them comfortable with you. Food is everything to animals, their greatest instincts are for survival. The more they associate people with food, the more comfortable animals are around them, the more responsive they are, the more trainable, and the more secure.

We speak to our animals in a calm and secure voice (unless we are yelling at Fate to stop eating revolting things in the woods.) I speak to the dogs more than any other of our animals, and then to the donkeys. The donkeys can hear us speaking in the farmhouse, they bray and demand food the minute they hear our voices.

The other way we speak to our animals is through our emotions. Maria's emotions are very close to the surface, and we can see the animals reacting to them. The donkeys know (the dogs also) if we are angry or calm, impatient or focused. Many people don't trust this kind of communicating, but we have found it invaluable and revealing.

Animals can literally smell emotion, and they can also sense it in our body language, eye contact and movement. What you feel is what they see and hear, even more intensely than through words. We are delighted with the way in which we communicate with the animals on the farm, it is a peaceable place. The animals get along with one another, and they trust us and respond to us. It just takes time and patience and calm.

Posted in General