Don’t Pet The Sweaty Things

I want to thank Don Williams of New Millennium Writings for giving me the idea to add to and expand upon his list of what I’ll call “suggestions of how to be a better human being.” Here are a few of mine.

Think with your mind and your heart.

Keep an open mind and when it slams shut, and plays a tape from your upbringing, your fear, your prejudices, your religion, your education, your philosophy, pry it open even if your fingers bleed and you lose your fingernails.

Think “us,” there is no “them.”

Interact with respect and compassion with all kingdoms in nature.

Wake each day and let your first thought be gratitude. Just because.

Meditate—it isn’t just about lowering your blood pressure, or emptying your mind; it isn’t in opposition to praying; it isn’t some exotic eastern discipline or “devil” tool. It’s about being open and receptive to that life that is so much greater than you, and that any philosophy or religion is able to fully define.

Love wastefully.

And . . .

Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things—George Carlin.

J is For Just a Dog

From time to time people tell me, “Lighten up, it’s just a dog,” or, “that’s a lot of money for just a dog.” They don’t understand the distance traveled, time spent, or costs involved for “Just a dog.” Some of my proudest moments have come with “Just a dog.” Many hours have passed with my only company being “Just a dog,” and not once have I felt slighted. Some of my saddest moments were brought about with “Just a dog.” In those days of darkness, the gentle touch of “Just a dog,” provided comfort and purpose to overcome the day.

If you too think it’s “Just a dog,” you will probably understand phrases like “Just a friend,” or “Just a sunrise,” or “Just a promise.” “Just a dog” brings into my life the very essence of friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy. “Just a dog” brings out the compassion and patience that makes me a better person. Because of “Just a dog,” I will rise early, take long walks, and look longingly to the future.

For me, and folks like me, it’s not “Just a dog.” It is the embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of the future, the fond memories of the past, and the pure joy of the moment. “Just a dog” brings out what’s good in me and diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries of the day.

I hope that someday people can understand that it’s not “Just a dog.” It’s the thing that gives me humanity and keeps me from being “Just a man or just a woman.”

So the next time you hear the phrase, it’s “Just a dog,” smile, because they “Just don’t understand.”

Author Unknown

The above photo is of my beloved Sweetpea, who passed away on April 21, 2009.

H is For Hippo

I love hippos. It’s that perpetual smile and those stubby little legs they have. But make no mistake even with those stumps they can outrun a human. They’ve been clocked at over 19 mph. The name hippopotamus comes from ancient Greek for “river horse.” The photo below (taken on one of the rocks surrounding my pond) is of one of five carved hippos I bought in Zimbabwe twelve years ago, when I realized how much I like them. I don’t know if you can tell, but this poor guy’s feet and his right ear have been chewed, courtesy of my beloved Staffie, Sweetpea, who died three years ago, this month. It just made the carving that much more dear.Did you know that the hippo’s hide, which has a pinkish hue and covered with thin hair, is extremely tough, though sensitive enough to feel the soft touch of a fly? Despite their physical resemblance to pigs and other three-toed ungulates, their closest living relatives are cetaceans (whales, porpoises, etc.). And even though they’re herbivores (they love grass), they’re considered the most aggressive animal in Africa. This video may change your mind. My mind didn’t need to be changed, I believe that every creature responds to love.


D is For Dog Crossing

I never noticed this dog crossing sign before. It’s up the road from me in front of a house that perches over Laguna Canyon Road halfway up a steep, half-tarred, half-concrete road paralleling the canyon. It’s the only house up there. Jake and Fergie, my Staffordshire Bull Terriers, and I sometimes take this route for a quickie hike, instead of the three-mile steeper version further down Canyon Acres. For one thing, there are no prowling rangers up here, ready to ticket me for letting the dogs run loose (Me and The Law), and for another there’s a rope swing at the top where Fergie has been pushing me from behind whenever I sit on the plank seat. I’ll have to get a shot of that sometime. Maybe that can be my “S is for Swing” blog . . . hmmm.

You’ll have to click on the photo to see the little dog crossing sign behind Fergie. Jake’s on the bench. No Jimmy today. He’s the little black mutt with cocker spaniel leanings who usually ambles from the house to bark at us. Maybe that’s why I’ve never noticed the sign, I’m too busy reining in Fergie. She’s a real pushy girl, thinks everyone is into getting some touch, some love, like she is.

Looking For The Moon

I hurried up Canyon Acres, Fergie and Jake straining on their leashes, camera bouncing against my hip.  I had to catch the full moon just as it crested the rocks at the end of the road.  Earlier that morning there’d been a total lunar eclipse in Gemini: sign of thinking and communicating (two of my favorite things to do).   It would be a spectacular shot.I got to the end of the road.  Where was the moon?   Just the night before it had perched there not quite full, bathing the entire hill in its soft milky light.  And then further up, in the middle of that road that detours around this one hill, I’d caught the sun in a blaze of glory above Catalina Island.  Two shots for the price of one.  Except I didn’t have my camera at the time.  Now I did and there was no moon.  Well, I could at least try to catch the sunset.I ran up that first leg, not something I’m fond of doing, think steep slalom ski slope, only to arrive at the aforementioned viewpoint to see the sun’s fairly unspectacular retreat, as evidenced by the above shot.  Okay.  So, the moon had to be somewhere, right?  Or had I imagined its location the day before?  Clenching my jaw, my Taurean–read persistence–jaw, I kept going around the hill headed for the next.  Maybe the moon would appear at the Top of The World (if you’ve read my musings before, you’ll know that’s what that area is actually called), another two miles up.

As we rounded the hill, Jake and Fergie, grinding against each other in play ahead of me, I stared at the top.  Where the hell was the moon?  And then I noticed the two figures pinned to the second hill above in the dying light; a woman’s laugh rang out in the clear air and I saw them bump together.   We kept going up the next hill, and then the next, up to the caves.  Still no moon.  I had to turn back.  Coyotes at this time of the evening, with two maniac terriers afraid of nothing.  I started back down the hill, running.  And then just as I reached the last leg, I heard that same woman’s voice shout out: “I love you!”  I stopped and feeling a soppy grin spread across my face, took it personally.  I’d missed the moon, but I’d been bathed in the light of love instead.