Friday, September 12, 2014

DIANA - FEBRUARY 21, 1997 - SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

Diana with St Francis

Today we made the difficult decision that Diana's quality of life had deteriorated to the point where it was time to let her go. She was still eating but not enough to keep her weight. Her usual weight varied between 30 and 34 pounds, and she was down to 22 pounds.  She had only one eye, but her eyesight in the eye was very poor.  She was deaf, with severe arthritis, and failing kidney function.  She'd take her medications for arthritis and kidney function only concealed in a piece of hot dog, and she was refusing the hot dog, so she was no longer getting relief from arthritis pain from the anti-inflammatory.
 
Our kind veterinarian, Dr Scott, at Ridgefield Animal Hospital agreed we were not making the wrong decision, that Diana had only a short while to live, and it was unlikely that she would have good days, along with bad days, as had been the case a few weeks ago.


Diana was with us for 17½ years, a good long run for a dog friend, and we are thankful for all the years together.  She was my companion on my walks until a couple of months ago, and I will very much miss our walkies together, but I have been missing her already.

Last Friday, I expressed my grief publicly on Facebook.  For me, Diana's life with us was pretty much over then.  Here's the picture I posted and what I said:

Tom and Diana in her better days
We are watching our dog Diana, who is 17 years old, deteriorate slowly. It's painful and depressing to see our once lively companion in such a sad way. She sleeps most of the time, but she still eats, drinks, and potties outside. She's losing weight because she eats much less than when she was healthier. Diana is deaf, has only one eye, and is nearly blind in the one. She has severe arthritis, but we give her anti-inflammatory medication every day, and she doesn't seem to be in pain. She's also on medication for failing kidney function.

Our benchmarks are if she stops eating, or can't get up, or can't walk, then it's time. Also, the weight loss is a concern. Most likely, we will pay a visit next week to one of our wonderful and compassionate veterinarians for an opinion about her weight.

Diana is in love with Tom at the moment. On the days when he works at the boat museum, she is obviously depressed, doesn't eat, and sleeps most of the day until he comes home in the late afternoon. On the days he's home, she eats better and follows him around wherever he goes until she decides it's time for a nap.
Tom and I are both at peace with the decision, though we know there will be sad times ahead. We will spread her ashes in our yard and garden, which has become a virtual pet cemetery for our dog, Rusty, and the several cats who have shared our lives over the years, but, this time, Tom wanted to be spared the burial.

St Francis, Diana, and azealeas
Rest in peace, Diana.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

REMEMBERING SEPTEMBER 11, 2001


September Midday Mass

The tall old priest entered the half-lit sacristy,
fresh from his usual Tuesday morning studies.
The fair-haired acolyte with the bad complexion
was ready, vested, standing in the dimness
quietly. The old priest noticed he was sniffing
and his eyes were red. A failed romance,
he thought; but keeping his own rule on chit-chat
in the sacristy, vested silently.
The old familiar motions and the prayers
displaced whatever thoughts he might have had;
the only dialogue to break the stillness was
the rote exchange of formal preparation.

Then, in one motion as he slipped his hand
beneath the pale green veil, the other hand
upon the burse, he lifted vested vessels,
turned and followed in the sniffing server’s
wake. Eyes lowered to the holy burden
in his hand, he failed to notice that
the chapel for this midday feria —
on other days like this with one or two
at most — was full of worshippers; until
he raised his eyes, and saw the pews were filled —
but undeterred began the liturgy:
the lessons and the gospel from last Sunday,
his sermon brief, but pointed, on the texts.
It wasn’t till the acolyte began
the people’s prayers, and choked out words of planes
that brought a city’s towers down, and crashed
into the Pentagon, and plowed a field
in Pennsylvania, that the old priest knew
this was no ordinary Tuesday in
September —
not ordinary time at all,
that day he missed the towers’ fall.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG
March 8, 2008

ASPERATUS CLOUDS?


I took the photo the other evening at dusk. Ever since I saw the first pictures of asperatus clouds, I've watched the sky, hoping to see the formations. The clouds in the picture are not as dramatic as some pictures I've seen, but I believe they may qualify as asperatus.

Asperatus clouds resemble waves in the sea.  The clouds do not produce storms, but they tend to form near thunderstorm clouds. On the left in the photo near the tree is the top of a thunderstorm cloud. 
Undulatus asperatus (or alternately, asperatus) is a cloud formation, proposed in 2009 as a separate cloud classification by the founder of the Cloud Appreciation Society.
....

The clouds are most closely related to undulatus clouds. Although they appear dark and storm-like, they tend to dissipate without a storm forming.
....

As of June 2009 the Royal Meteorological Society is gathering evidence of the type of weather patterns in which undulatus asperatus clouds appear, so as to study how they form and decide whether they are distinct from other undulatus clouds.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

SAVING MR. BANKS

A friend or family member must have recommended Disney's Saving Mr. Banks to me, because I doubt I would have selected it on Netflix on the basis of reviews.  Whoever it was, I'm sorry to give the movie a thumbs-down rating.  The flashback scenes from Helen Goff's (P L Travers' given name) childhood in Australia, with Colin Farrell in the role of her alcoholic father and Annie Rose Buckley as Helen, were the one redeeming quality of the film, but, as written, that part of the story of Helen's early life is entirely predictable.  The lovely scenery in Australia provided a stark contrast to the ugliness of Hollywood, where Travers, played by Emma Thompson, travels to supervise and edit the final version of the script for the Disney version of her Mary Poppins tale.

Thompson is excellent in her portrayal of Travers as written in the Disney script, a prim, dour, unreasonable, domineering spinster, but I wonder why an actor of Thompson's stature agreed to play the role, which is a travesty of the real-life character of the author.  During her life, Travers had intense relationships with both men and women, thus she was hardly the prim spinster as portrayed in the movie.  Though it's true Travers' personality was prickly, she led an unconventional life for a woman of her time.  The author died at the age of 96, estranged from her adopted son and grandchildren.  According to her grandchildren, Travers "died loving no one and with no one loving her." Alas.

Although Tom Hanks performance received good reviews from some critics, I cringed when I watched his labored, cartoonish, mugging, grimacing portrayal of Walt Disney.  Before writing, I searched on YouTube for videos of Disney's introductions to his TV show, wondering if he could possibly be that amateurish.  He was not, but was rather a better, smoother performer than Hanks' character in the film. Sadly, Paul Giamatti wasted his considerable talent in his role as Travers' chauffeur while she was in LA. 

Each time the movie switched from Travers' childhood in Australia back to her time in Hollywood, I couldn't help but think, "This is loathsome," and that is not often my opinion about films I have chosen to see.   I rated the movie two stars for the scenes in Australia from Traver's early life.

The psychologizing at the end of the film which suggests that Mr Banks was a stand-in for Travers' father and that the writer experienced a therapeutic cartharsis as she watched the Disney movie, with the result that her alcoholic father was redeemed in her eyes, is pure nonsense.  Travers disliked the film intensely, objected to the sweetening of the character of Mary Poppins, and refused to give Disney the rights to any of the other Mary Poppins books.

Monday, September 8, 2014

LARGE MUSHROOMS IN THE GARDEN


The mushrooms have been cut  because the lawn had to be mown, alas. The mushroom above is about 4 inches in diameter and the curled mushroom below is about 8 inches.  Though the two don't look much alike, they were growing fairly close to each other. They grew inches in diameter by the day.


The stems and undersides of the mushrooms are pictured below.  I think they may be the same species at different stages of growth.

FIND MODERATE PARTNERS IN SYRIA?

“We are going to have to find effective partners on the ground to push back against ISIL,” Obama said, using the government’s acronym for the Islamic State and referring specifically to its sanctuary in Syria. “The moderate coalition there is one that we can work with. We have experience working with many of them. They have been, to some degree, outgunned and outmanned, and that’s why it’s important for us to work with our friends and allies to support them more effectively.
Who the hell are the moderates in Syria that will be trustworthy allies, Mr President? Good luck with finding them and keeping them as allies.

Oh wait! We can relax now. The CIA is on the case.
There are indications that the hard work to build such a force is already underway, overseen by the CIA, despite remarks by Obama last month disparaging the moderate U.S.-backed Syrian opposition as “doctors, farmers, pharmacists, and so forth.”
Where's an eye-roll emoticon when you need one? 

To intervene in Syria would be escalation on a scale that I would not want to see. We've not been asked. We'd be fighting ISIL, but would that mean Assad suddenly becomes our ally?  Before the rapid territorial advances of ISIL in Syria, we wanted Assad out. In today's speak, we were for Assad before we were against him. Are we once again to be for him? I can't keep up.

If we are going to be in a state of perpetual war, we need to reinstitute the draft, with everyone of suitable age eligible for call to duty, and no exemptions except for those with physical or mental disabilities.

THANKS FOR THE LAUGH, GOVNA

Yesterday morning, my first laugh from the Sunday paper came not from the comics but rather from news of Gov. Jindal, who has not decided whether he's running for president, but is up there in Iowa and New Hampshire acting a lot like a candidate.
Stratham, N.H. — On a Saturday afternoon edging toward Louisiana hot, Gov. Bobby Jindal climbed onto a farm trailer in front of a weathered barn and spoke about party unity and the American dream to a couple hundred Republicans scattered across the grass by a cornfield.
Bobby Jindal in a farm trailer. Ha ha.

Oh wait!
This was no crowd of yokels...
All right, then. Jindal will have to work hard to stay on message - I should rather say "on messages" - different messages for different groups in the various states, because, so far as I can tell, he has no core principles but is a reed in the wind that goes with the wind wherever it blows.
In each of the last two national elections, a Christian-right candidate has scored a surprising success in Iowa only to crash and burn in New Hampshire, where independents as well as registered Republicans can vote in the primary.
Watch your step, Govna. It's is a minefield up there.

Friday, September 5, 2014

TOM AND DIANA IN HER BETTER DAYS


We are watching our dog Diana, who is 17 years old, deteriorate slowly. It's painful and depressing to see our once lively companion in such a sad way. She sleeps most of the time, but she still eats, drinks, and potties outside. She's losing weight because she eats much less than when she was healthier. Diana is deaf, has only one eye, and is nearly blind in the one. She has severe arthritis, but we give her anti-inflammatory medication every day, and she doesn't seem to be in pain. She's also on medication for failing kidney function.

Our benchmarks are if she stops eating, or can't get up, or can't walk, then it's time. Also, the weight loss is a concern. Most likely, we will pay a visit next week to one of our wonderful and compassionate veterinarians for an opinion about her weight.

Diana is in love with Tom at the moment. On the days when he works at the boat museum, she is obviously depressed, doesn't eat, and sleeps most of the day until he comes home in the late afternoon. On the days he's home, she eats better and follows him around wherever he goes until she decides it's time for a nap.


I miss my walks with Diana.  She still gets excited when she sees or hears or smells the leash, but she goes only a short way down the street now, and sometimes not even that far, sometimes only to the end of the driveway. That was our time, and that is gone.  I think she functions more by smell now, since the other two senses are pretty much gone.
   
The time is much more difficult than I had imagined. Rusty, who came before Diana, had lymphoma, and his decline was much faster, but I suppose one should not expect to be cheerful during a death watch.  I find I'm grieving for her before she is gone.  Grief will have its way, and I can do nothing else but go with it and love her as long as she is with us.

Friday, August 29, 2014

KATRINA - AUGUST 29, 2005 - NINE YEARS LATER

Our Lady of the Driveway
Thanks to Athenae at First Draft for the photo and the title. She took the picture when she was in New Orleans at the end of March, when a group of us led by FD bloggers, Athenae and Scout Prime, gathered to gut a house, view the destruction, and squeeze in a little fun.

The statue of the Virgin Mary stood in a driveway. The head was broken off, but someone had put it back in place. The photo and the title struck me with such force when I first saw it that I have never forgotten it. The image of the statue of Mary in the driveway - "Mary, full of grace" as Athenae calls her - was the symbol of my destroyed and broken home town, my abandoned city, my beloved New Orleans - always full of grace to me.

Our Lady Of The Driveway

O Mary of the Driveway,
Broken like your city,
Your head lies on the ground.
A sorry sight, a sign,
A sign of devastation
Wrought by wind and water,
Angry blow and raging flow.

A passer-by, one of tender heart,
Sees and stops and mourns your head
Lying there apart,
And gently, gently takes it
And replaces it.
There. Our Lady's whole again.
Or so it seems. Or is it so?


June Butler - 5-13-07
I posted the picture, the commentary, and the poem first on May 13, 2007 and then again on the anniversary of Katrina in the years that followed. Until I change my mind, I will post the picture and the poem every year on the anniversary of Katrina and THE FEDERAL FLOOD, which, in New Orleans, was not a natural disaster but an ENGINEERING DISASTER. I remember the more than 1800 people who died and all those who loved them. I remember the 275,000 who lost their homes. I remember those who survived, but suffered through horrendous conditions in the days after Katrina. I remember those who have not returned to their home towns, and who want to, but can't find affordable housing. I remember those in Louisiana and Mississippi still struggling to recover and rebuild their homes and their lives.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

BOBBY JINDAL, FRIVOLOUS LAWSUITS, CHASING RAINBOWS

In a move certain to bolster his national standing with conservatives, Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal sued the Obama administration Wednesday, hoping to strike a blow against the controversial Common Core education standards and raising his profile as he builds a likely presidential campaign.
....

"The federal government has hijacked and destroyed the Common Core initiative," Jindal said in a statement. "Common Core is the latest effort by big government disciples to strip away state rights and put Washington, D.C., in control of everything."
Jindal, the governor who is always in campaign mode, filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration that will be paid for with the tax money of Louisiana citizens.  The governor lost two earlier suits in state courts to stop Common Core, so now it's on to federal court in another grandstanding, frivolous lawsuit at the expense of the people of the state.
When the Louisiana education board embraced the standards in 2010, Jindal supported them, saying they would help students prepare for college and careers. He reversed course earlier this year, calling the standards an effort by the Obama administration to meddle in state education policy.
The governor was for the standards before he was against them.  Neither the Louisiana Legislature, nor the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, nor State Superintendent of Education John White want to discontinue the use of Common Core standards, for which the teachers and students have been preparing for four years, with the first tests due in the spring of 2015.   Does Jindal ever give a thought to the teachers and students who operate under conditions of uncertainty because of his own personal ambition?  As blogger LouisianaVoice said, Jindal is a 100% absentee governor.  All his activities have to do with his fantasy of winning the Republican nomination for president, or at the very least vice-president, and then moving on to win election to higher office.
Neal McCluskey, of the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute's Center for Educational Freedom, said he doesn't expect the lawsuit to be successful, even though he agrees with its premise.
....

"They've definitely got a steep hill to climb on this lawsuit," McCluskey said.
Exactly, but why would Jindal care?  It's our money.