3 July

The Old Sheep Remind Me

by Jon Katz
The Old Sheep

The Old Sheep remind me,

of things I need to know, to remember.

That in the end, love is all there is,

and ever was.

And to accept death as life itself,

one end making the other possible,

one defining the other, both miracles,

love at the start, love at the end,

bookends of the soul.

They remind me to keep my dignity

in my heart,

and soul, where it cannot be replaced

or removed, or dulled with pills,

and lured by tests.

When the world would dismiss me,

and make light of me,

and treat me like a child,

when I no longer have years to buy things

I never needed,

and to pity me,

with diapers, and discounts,

and friendly chats,

and insult me, with pills and tests

and parts that would keep me alive

for a life empty of meaning and worth,

so others can grow fat off my empty life.

The old sheep remind me. They are so much

wiser than us.

There is

another way, a way of meaning, connection,

pride. And community.

Life accepted, not denied.

And love, to the end.

Love to the end.

3 July

Lulu, Maria, Fanny

by Jon Katz
Open hearts

There is so much love between Maria and her donkeys that you can almost touch it. Maria is one of the most loving things I have ever known, and the donkeys the most intuitive creatures. Every morning, these three have a conversation. Maria loves it, the donkeys seem to need it. They express their love by getting close and being still, with their ears up, leaning into the things they love, listening it seems. In their own language and way I believe they are saying, we need this, we need you, not for too long, not for too much. Just to know you are there, and we are there. This is their work, and has always been their work for thousands of years. You can see it and hear it if you listen.

3 July

On sale. For $2.99. “The Story Of Rose.” My first E-Book Original

by Jon Katz
A new chapter for me, for Rose

I am pleased to announce that my first E-Book Original, “The Story Of Rose,” is now available for pre-ordering on Amazon, Bn.com, and through the Kindle, Nook, Ipad and Google Reader tablets. The book – a full -sized original book with videos and photos (IBooks is offering an enhanced edition) is priced at $2.99.

This is a big step for me in my writing life. The official publication date is August 9, but the book went up on book sites this morning. A few years ago, I could not have imagined a book of mine being priced at $2.99 but I support it. More books are being read by more people than ever, and new pricing is a part of the reason. My other books will all be in paper this year and in coming years, but this is a market I have wanted to explore for years and I am grateful to Random House for their work in putting this very innovative book together. Apple’s version is offering a dozen videos and more than 100 photographs and slide-shows at the end of every chapter. The other versions will have fewer videos.  It is the most beautiful book I have ever published, and I love the way it comes to life graphically. Random House’s designers did a brilliant job with it. It is a beautiful expression of my writing, my photography, and my wonderful and beloved dog Rose. It is an entirely new and original book, most of the stories not written before, even on the blog.

I am excited about it. It is gorgeous and powerful, I think and  hope. I can’t wait to explore this field further.

A new chapter for me.

It is a testament to my life with Rose, the many adventures we had together, a tribute to the power of a dog to chance a life. It is not a sad or morbid book. I am not expecting to see Rose on any bridge. She is free now, and I hope she is running in fields of gold. I hope you get it and I hope you like it.

3 July

Me and Red And Lord Nelson. Best And Worst Of Men

by Jon Katz
My morning

I woke up at 5 a.m., got out of be quietly so as not to wake Maria. Hard to do. She sleeps like a sack of cement. I pulled my jeans and a shirt on and I whispered to Red to go out and work. And we did. I thought this morning of one of my favorite historical tales, that of Lord Nelson, famed Admiral of the Royal Navy, who set out to do battle with the Spanish Armada.

Fog separated him from his fleet one morning, and when the fog cleared, he found himself facing 49 enemy warships all by himself. His young lieutenant looked at the Armada arrayed right in front of Nelson and nervously asked him what he wished to do, preparing to turn to the ship around quickly. Nelson looked at him increduously, and answered, “why, lieutenant. There is only one thing to do. Attack!” And so he died. The rest of the fleet joined up, and the British won, but Nelson was gravely injured by a sniper and died soon after.

To me, this story illustrates the best and worst of men. Too headstrong to turn, he rushed to die. But also stirringly brave and inspiring at the same time. When you believe in something, you must pursue it, even beyond reason sometimes. You either live a life of the heart or a life of the checkbook. It is hard to do both. This morning, in the pasture with Red, looking out at this valley, I wavered, for the first time, on selling the farm. What am I doing? I thought. How could I leave this wonderful place for another place that needs a lot of work? Why, in my 60’s, am I not downsizing, counting my IRA’s, budgeting for the long road downhill. Why am I buying a farm when I haven’t sold the one I have, and how beautiful a one it is.

I asked myself the same questions before I upended my life and refused to live a loveless life or die a loveless death. I knew what I had to do. The result was Maria, the greatest victory in my life.

And then, this morning,  I remembered Lord Nelson, standing on the bridge of his ship, looking out at all of those guns, not even blinking, and I turned to Red, staring down a big and belligerent ram,  and I answered the voices in my head, my own lieutenant, and I said, “why, Red. Let’s attack.”

And we will.

3 July

Red Herding: Return To Video

by Jon Katz
Red The Video

My new Canon video camera came today and I spent a couple of hours assembling everything, figuring out the cables and  tripod and software. Then I took Red out for some work. It was mid-day and hot, and I didn’t want to take too long, but I couldn’t resist capturing one of Red’s spectacular and exhilarating outruns – another call to life and freedom, really.

I haven’t taken a video for awhile. I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the technical detritus of creativity, hauling too much stuff around, trying to keep track of too many passwords. I didn’t want to be a slave to it. I got a neat new Canon camera, many steps above what I had and I am awakening to the possibilities of moving images again. I have to think about what I want to use the camera for, and what I want to use still images for. I’ll be sharing that process. Each new creative tool is a gift, an opportunity.

My first video is not too creative, but fun, I think. Shows Red strutting his stuff.

I had some trouble adjusting the lens cap so there is some vignetting on some of the photos. I’ve figured it out, and the camera is very good, very crisp and functional. It’s expensive, but I will need it for the enhanced e-books I plan to write.  Captures color and movement very well.

It’s a fine first taste of Red at work, and sets the scene well for him. Training notes: I was a bit scattered, perhaps even anxious fiddling with the camera, so I used more words than I usually do, and too many a couple of times. I don’t usually preface commands with “Red,” and I rarely praise him with “good boy” out in the pasture. Work is its own reward for border collies. He knows his name, also.  Otherwise, he was his usual stellar self and he and I are  more in sync every day. His outruns are amazing, and even when he takes a beating from some of the sheep, he is appropriate and determined. He controls them skillfully and professionally.  So here’s the first video with the new camera. Come and see this remarkable creature at work.


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