Archive | May 2013

The Treachery of Images


This is not my dog.
She’s camera shy. This is a close approximation though!

Okay, I’m a bit behind on posts for May, but here’s what happened . . .

In the aftermath of the fire and Fling, my dog died. The circumstances were typical for my life — in that they were crazy.

The dog’s vet of many years, incredibly, refused to put her down without my first giving a 2-week trial of a very expensive drug ($10  a pill) for arthritis. But the dog just had just been on a similar medication for a month — which didn’t work. Now I’m standing here, tell you the dog had just had a massive IVDD attack where she almost ran herself to death while yelping in pain. She is suffering intensely, has lupus and IVDD, and . . . .

No. He refused. The bastard.

So I took my dog home. She had three more IVDD attacks in the night. By the last one, she was unable to walk. She could only lay there and bark in severe pain (despite my giving her pain pills).

The next morning, I called a mobile vet, a woman vet.  She agreed the dog was suffering and put my dog down — in my dining room (not on the table!) — the next evening.

That was Wednesday.

Friday, I contacted a local chow rescue group and gave them my particulars. Sunday morning they found me a good match (although she had K-Cough and scheduled to be put down that afternoon because the shelter doesn’t treat!). I called the shelter, said I would take the dog, and  Tuesday I picked a young, adult, red chow* and golden retriever mix.

Yep, that’s right. One week after my beloved black chow* border collie dog died, I brought home a new one.

I’m not heartless. I’m not afraid to feel the pain of loss (of pets or people). I do feel it. But there’s a world of people, places, creatures, things to be loved. Why deny them? Why deny myself?

I have some friends who have yet to replace their dog — which died 4 years ago. Such a waste. I have some friends that are still thinking about their ex, 3 years later. Or the job they lost. Or the place they once lived.  Or . . . .

You only get so many days on Earth. Why would you want to spend more than a few in grief? What’s the point of that?

From one of my wise old Jewish friends, I learned you have to bury what’s dead within 3 days and go on living. More than 3 days, and there’s a danger you’ll hang on to something in a way that’s unhealthy.

Real living things are all around, waiting to love and be loved. Images of things lost are only images. And therein lies their treachery.


*Yes, I like chow chows. Best dogs ever! Elvis and Queen Victoria had chows. Really, need I say more? The dog of The King and HRH the Queen.

All Good Flings Come to an End


Yes, it’s true. Fling has been flung. I try to confine a fling to 6 months max, so no one feels I ruined their life by leading them on for years — Mr Grove!!!

But, I admit, I really liked Fling and, because we’d spent so much time apart, I was of a mind to wait till we’d spent 6 months together — as in, in the same place together — before I ended it (if either of us was of a mind to end it).

So, what happened? Fling came back a changed man — as a result of his recent health scare. He felt he had “clarity” about his life.  . . . uh, ok . . . . He wanted to get more serious . . . uh, not ok.

I’ve seen this scenario before. A person faces a life-or-death crisis and come out different — sometimes forever different, sometimes for a couple years different, sometimes for a few weeks different.

I don’t know if this Fling is forever changed or just temporarily changed. I know he thinks he has clarity. Maybe he does. But I don’t. I’m thoroughly confused.

This new Fling is not the Fling I remember. He’s more serious now, more level-headed. It’s not balanced by the old Fling’s verve and spontaneity.

Maybe we’ll meet in the future. Maybe he’ll be the man I remembered again.

But I worry that in the interval, he’ll do something ruinous to his own life and others. What if this “new” Fling wakes up 5 years from now and discovers he’s made a whole life based on the man he’s not?

I should hate for that to happen to him. But, I’m not going to allow myself to become a decision he comes to regret. And so,  for both our sakes, Good Me has to end it .


Ah, Love . . . . <sigh>.

Hævnen, it can be Hell


I had the opportunity to see the 2011 Academy Award winning Best Foreign Film the other day. Wow! The cinematography is beautiful, the acting is amazing, and the plot is powerful.

Fair warning though, this is a Danish film. There is quite a bit of English spoken in the film, but you’ll be reading subtitles a lot.

Also, keep in mind the English title is a not an exact translation.  You probably think Hævnen means Heaven. Certainly the “In a Better World” title used abroad leads English speakers to believe that. Heaven is a better world after all.

But don’t be fooled. Hævnen is Danish for revenge. And that’s what this film is about.


To me the plot was about bullying, its ramifications for society and its often unforeseen consequences as told through two 10-year-old boys and their families. It’s a film everyone over age 12 should see.  William Jøhnk Nielsen and Markus Rygaard, who played the main characters — two boys above — were incredible.

One of the reasons for the bullying is probably a bit obscure, though the film subtitles do a good job of trying to help the audience understand. One boy is the son of Swedes who live in Denmark. One boy is Danish. So there’s the whole foreigner thing going on — which seems weird to Americans because they’re both White Europeans, but . . . . among Scandinavians (which the Danish and Swedish peoples are), a Danish stereotype of Swedes is that they are stupid. (By the way, a Scandinavian stereotype of Danish people is that they’re too blunt!)

The film had many other layers, intertwined stories of love, loss, redemption, forgiveness, but they were all bound together by the overriding theme of revenge (great and small) and the consequences that stem from taking (or not taking) revenge.

I think that most Americans will find the film too long (2.5 hours because of many long. beautiful scenery shots)  and be shocked, if not horrified, by its ending. However, I liked the cinematic flare of the film with its color saturated shots and long moments of reflective acting.  I liked the ending too. It was uplifting, redemptive. But it was definitely not for everyone.

Foreign films give you an opportunity to learn about another culture, another way of handling life’s events, another way of living in community. So, if the ending of the film truly shows how Danes would hand out “justice,” which is a type of “revenge” in this scenario (ie, the film truly hows such a case would be handled in Denmark), then I admire the Danes tremendously!

Spoiler Alert — Read No Further if you plan to watch the film!

In America, no cop would deem two 10-year-old boys destroying someone’s car with a massive pipe bomb a case of “serious vandalism,” return them to their parents, and assume they’d just go back to their same public school after summer break.

Of course in America, the instigating boy would have been thrown into prison after his first criminal act (assault on another student while on school property) and things would never have reached the level of destroying someone’s empty car with a bomb!

The Epic Weekend

Camarillo Springs

I woke up about 6:45 on Thursday to put out an old A/C unit for collection. I thought I heard fire engines. I looked around but didn’t see anything. Later in the day, I looked out and saw fire headed down the hillside for my area.

Weirdly though, I thought about the beauty of the smoke clouds and how the animals would fare both during an after the blaze. I knew I could run away. Or, I though I could, till the shut down all the streets and told us if we hadn’t left to shelter in place.

Into the night we watched the flames leap a hundred feet into the air. And the helicopters continued to drop water. We have the best fireman in our county. I mean, the best. We also have the toughest brush control laws in the state. Odds stack in our favor.

Twice the fire came down the hill and my friends evacuated. I watched, and then went back to cleaning up the ant attacks in the kitchen. After all, I couldn’t do anything about the fire except pray for the firefighters and the animals. Into the night, the choppers whirred overhead as if it were a war zone — which it was.

Things seemed better Friday, except for another ant attack. Then my grandmother had a blood pressure spike — whose wouldn’t. So I had to go take care of her at her house — even nearer to the fire. She’s an “I’ll never leave, except they carry me out” type. I’m a “if it all goes, it’s a chance to start fresh” type.

Things became progressively worse. The fire came back again. Ash began to fall like snow, like a scene from that movie Volcano. I put on a mask and goggles, went out to the yard and watered everything down. When I came back in, there was an automated phone message on her answering machine — yeah, she has one.

It was from her insurance company. They were telling my elderly grandmother she should make her home safe by removing brush and leaves. Wow, the compassion. She elderly and you’re telling her to save her house and not herself because she insured her house with you? You couldn’t even have her (an) agent call to check on her? Good Neighbor, my eyes.

All the while I was in the backyard, water, in the smoke and ash, as the flames rose, I prayed. And ok, this time I appealed to Our Lady of Good Counsel. You probably don’t know her, and wouldn’t think of her in a brushfire, unless your  Australian or have Benedictine associations. Strangely, the Benedictine community of New Norcia doesn’t even mention her on their website now.


The fire turned away, again. We sat in the  house watching the news, with the A/C on because it was blazing and   the drapes drawn to prevent smoke coming in. Eventually, I went to bed, around 11PM, but the helicopters flying by kept me up till 3AM. They fly quite low.

By Sat morning, things seemed a lot better — at least for residents (not so good for wildlife). The air still smells of smoke and we can’t open any doors and widows though. The fire is still being fought, but it’s cooler . It may rain. Things will be ok — and I’ll be putting out extra food and water everyday to help the wildlife even if that means I end up with deer, bears, mountain lions or even more gophers.

Really I’m just writing this post to thank all the fire depts that sent crews, the prisoners who came and worked the frontlines, the neighborhood, the police, and EMTs. And too, to say thanks to God for sparing us all (we really don’t deserve it), and thanks to Our Lady of Good Counsel, who will certainly be mentioned by me!

I think I’ll be sleeping all the rest of this week. Hopefully our fire fighters will be able to do the same soon.