A rescued dog with a lot of love in him and for quite awhile some serious issues; he was loving referred to in this blog as the neurotic chocolate lab; Duke went over The Bridge, August 19th. His final post is dedicated to ………….
What Duke Learnt – In His Own Words
Eating a stick of butter off the kitchen counter makes your tummy ache
When you’re scared good mummies take your head in their hands and tell you how handsome and smart you are
My first Australian Shepherd sister Jenna took care of me & taught me important dog stuff
Australian Shepherds are bossy and tell you that all the toys are theirs
I got so sad when Jenna went away but then funny Mia came to live with us
Wow, mom can get peanut butter to come out of these black rubber things and my dog chow to fall out of orange balls
I don’t have to be afraid of TVs, candles, fireworks, foil, ball caps or thunder
It’s kinda cool to have a cat friend who sleeps with you
If I smile at dad when he comes home from work it makes him laugh
The best thing about winter is my favourite blanket warm from the dryer
For some reason it’s not ’helpful’ when I lick the dishes in the dishwasher
Mom makes a really funny noise when I wipe my cookie crumb mouth on her black pants
When you get old your head and body don’t feel good
On Friday daddy was sad, Dr Jodi is talking softly; mummy took my head in her hands and whispered “You are handsome and smart and you’re going to see Jenna”
What I learnt is I am loved …………
Thank you to Ringneck Kennels for taking in a once troubled young chocolate Labrador Retriever and then entrusting him to our care.
For looking after Duke not only physically but mentally we are so grateful to Dr. Jodi Silvernagle and all the staff at the Animal Care Centre of Strathmore.
A friend lent me this book as I am grappling with the mental and physical decline of my oldest dog. You will find though that you don’t need to own a pet to be swept up in the story of Denny, an up-and-coming race car driver, his family and the events that reshape their lives.
Garth Stein’s book stands out among the overly long list of doggy literature and it doesn’t have the fluff of Marley & Me. It is a humans’ story as told by their dog Enzo. He proves to be a wise, funny and ultimately philosophical narrator. If like me, you prefer not to look at life’s bigger issues through a spiritual purple haze his worldview even if it is from ground level is refreshingly logical. The reader will find themselves thinking about an odd assortment of things from their thumbs to the big stuff like navigating life as though you’re on a race track, hence its compelling title.
This is one of those books that affects everyone differently which makes The Art Of Racing in the Rain a great book club choice. Published in 2008 it came into my life at the right time. Reading about living and dying from a dogs perspective enabled me to step back from the overwhelming heaviness of it all.
As he nears the end of his life, avid TV watcher Enzo is fascinated by a documentary about Mongolia where dogs are laid to rest high in the hills. While I cannot give that to the chocolate Labrador who has shared my life for many years; I can grant him this last summer to warm his aching body and perhaps bring some peace to a now cloudy mind. And I know that he too will tell me when it is time.
With family visiting it was a good Easter. Two little girls aged two and four bought the house alive with laughter and a few tears. Guests are always a good excuse to visit local tourist attractions such as the Royal Tyrrell Museum, which I highly recommend if you are in the area.
April 29th found me eating toast and drinking tea at 3am as I got up to watch the royal wedding. Beautifully done from the trees in Westminster Abbey to the ceremony of two people so obviously in love. While still befitting the occasion and venue the wedding dress needed something more though.
On the dog front we have ended neurotic chocolate lab’s time out from the dog park; now that he realizes that seeing his sister go there without him is no fun his behaviour has been much more sociable. He was also very good with the children at Easter but I think that was because they proved to be a source of food.
Currently reading Lisa Napoli’s Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth. Enjoyed the new Upstairs, Downstairs 3-part series; it did seem a bit rushed and could have been more in-depth especially when it came to the characters. Lot of good shows on Sunday night (Game of Thrones) so I hope that they re-run the Borgias as I am not catching it.
On the business side my websites were among many hacked into on and around Easter. While I am not naïve when it comes to business, as it always brings with it varying degrees of risk I cannot fathom what is gained by damaging the work of those of us who are not corporations. The burden hackers put on the funds, staff and resources of solo entrepreneurs is enormous.
The snow has gone from our corner of Alberta and now we can think about spring home renovations and flowers. On Wednesday I am off to a conference for ‘established business women’ so I will let you know how that goes. I am looking forward to a nice hotel room and bed to myself, hope I don’t sleep in!
The other day I looked out of the kitchen window and there was Duke trying to fit his big Labrador body on one small dry sunny spot in the snowy back garden. Here in Alberta winter is still clinging on for dear life; there were a few spring like days but this morning we woke up to more snow. The prolonged winter is why I have yet another book review; as the evenings are more about reading than being outside. I have started Roberta Rich’s The Midwife of Venice which I will probably have finished before I see any blades of grass on the lawn and here are my thoughts on the just finished Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay -
I wasn’t sure if I wanted to read Sarah’s Key. Over the years I made sure that I was informed about the Holocaust; starting with the Diary of Anne Frank, onto Jean-Francois Steiner’s Treblinka and then Night by Elie Wiesel. I was also careful to watch shows that treated the subject with respect and truth; World at War, Schindler’s List and HBO’s 2001 undervalued Conspiracy come to mind.
From the first few pages I was soon to realize that like the main character Julia I knew nothing about the Vél d’Hiv roundup. As the book unfolds I found Sarah’s journey riveting and the modern day Julia’s story was well intertwined. Unfortunately when de Rosnay drops Sarah’s narrative and let’s the rest of it unfold through Julia’s research the book loses its substance. At that point Sarah’s Key takes on the veneer of a romance novel; the characters and scenes became banal. The last chapter was positively Danielle Steelesque, so much so that when Julia reveals the name of her baby it doesn’t read as poignant but trite.
I do recommend the book as the first half is well written and devoid of melodrama; as France is now willing to face and apologize for the Vél d’Hiv this event needs to take it place in our consciousness. Which further reinforces that if de Rosnay had continued to write Sarah’s character into the second half of the book this would have been a truly great novel from beginning to end.
As for Duke he is back in his cornor of the living room fast asleep on his big soft dog bed with an extra blanket for padding and probably dreaming about spring.
I finished the book knowing a lot more about life of the Chinese immigrants in Gold Mountain (Canada). Descriptions of present day China and some of its 20th century history were also eye opening and fascinating.
The flow of this memoir is however uneven. Fong Bates has a wonderful way with words as illustrated in her more descriptive passages. Had she turned that deft talent to allowed us to get to know her and the relatives that she encountered in more depth the book would have been richer and ultimately more fulfilling. Instead there are sketchy bits about this and that person and as for the author she is an aloof and withdrawn narrator.
It is not easy to recognize that our parents were ‘people’ first. They loved and hated, laughed and cried, succeeded and failed all before they became a mother or father. For someone who went to China openly seeking her father’s story’ Fong Bates’ comes across as surprising judgemental of the truths as they reveal themselves.
The book is a quick read, enjoyable and interesting but it is not up to the gushing reviews that some have written. Jan Wong in The National Post writes a well balanced review.
With Your Biscotti & Coffee
1) I had never given much thought to the notes scribbled in the margins of books until I read about Professor Jackson and her two decades of researching ‘marginalia’. From the sidelines by Kathryn Blaze Carlson
2) It takes a team to successfully find the right home for a foster child and St. Loius is paving the way to proving that; Foster Care: Extreme Edition by Curtis Sittenfeld
3) Curl up with a second mug of coffee and be prepared to view some of the worlds greatest art collections; Google Art Project
There are plenty of people speaking out over the perceived harshness in the Chinese ‘Tiger Moms’ child rearing style. With near epidemic school bullying, little girls in kitten heels and make-up and our boys struggling in school with record low grades perhaps all is not going so well in North American homes either.
I had an English upbringing; a child rearing style that lacked in spontaneous hugging and trips to amusement parks; along with a zero tolerance for whining and not eating one’s vegetables. There were rules and there was discipline. On the other side of the coin talking things through and being heard was only a cup of tea away. I was loved in that ‘we are here when you need us, always do your best, try everything once and treat people with respect’ way.
The world’s children can not be bought up in a universally approved homogenized process. Cultural differences in raising a family shouldn’t bring with it an assumption that being strict translates into an absence of humour or love.
Maintaining a steady grade average, taking part in carefully chosen extra curricular activities as well as learning good manners, deference to personal boundaries and self-reliance aren’t old fashioned they make for a well adjusted adult. Without these traits many of today’s ready to enter the work force young adults are about to learn that the world doesn’t have time for their poor inter-personal and communication skills, inability to empathize and over inflated sense of self.
With Your Biscotti & Coffee
Continuing our look at the younger generation …………
2) Before heading off to college some students are going out into the world to expereince adventure and volunteerism. Is the gap year worth it? by Sean Gregory
3) Can Google Earth enhance the reading experience for students? What the Joads Saw by Vanessa Farquharson
Spirituality and religion are entities that I tend to analyze; never quite sure how they fit in my worldview. I also find it fascinating that as women we once lived lives influenced by the moon cycles, ran homes steeped in seasonal rituals, were both healer and keeper of ancient family stories and traditions.
Today December 21st is Winter Solstice and it is steeped in female folklore:
Celebrating Winter Solstice is a bit long but interesting
As a coach I often hear women say that there is an emptiness or void inside of them and perhaps the key to filling that lies in a re-connection with our past. An untamed beach with waves crashing in powerful harmony speaks to my ancient Anglo-Saxon self. And is probably the closest to a spiritual experience that I have known to date.
As a New Year begins our ancestry may hold unexpected revelations about ourselves. The success of 2011 is in the soil between your fingers as you plant herbs, a mountain climbing expedition or returning to the religion of your childhood.
With Your Biscotti & Coffee
1) The first written record of this sport dates back to 712. Cleaning Up Sumo by Hannah Beech/Saitama Sakae
Two Interesting Women
2) Dr. Hawa Abdi – Heroic, Female and Muslim by Nicholas D. Kristof
3) The perfume business is not all roses especially for perfumer Patricia de Nicolai, Scent of a Woman by Nathalie Atkinson
Recently I read an opinion piece by Barbara Yaffe entitled PM’s wife stepping out of the shadows then I check the top of the newspaper to make sure I hadn’t regressed in time. The repetitious ‘wife of’ along with phrases such as ‘becoming chatelaine of 24 Sussex avenue’ & ‘highly judicious manner’ had the role of the PM’s wife playing out like a political version of Father Knows Best.
While the US title for the president’s spouse of First Lady is not great; it has definition and in that capacity she does have the support and lee way to define the role and subsequent contributions during the President’s term.
Compare Michelle Obama on the White House website to Lauren Harper on the Prime Minister’s of Canada website. For balance we can look at the more traditional first lady, Laura Bush and what she accomplished during her years in the White House.
What is keeping the Prime Minister’s wives from fulfilling the potential of their position? Is it an outdated political protocol in Ottawa, type casting by the press or the personality types of the wives themselves?
One day a Canadian first lady will give that role the depth that it deserves; which is not as the article suggests about being a media personality nor is it about enhancing a husband’s political image. It is recognizing the opportunity to make a difference, leave an imprint in Canadian history and when the children ask what did you do while daddy was Prime Minister the answer is not going to be “Making sure that no one noticed me”.
With Your Biscotti & Coffee
Instead of An Interesting Woman I thought that I would end the year with a few good men and the choices may surprise you.
1. There is little doubt that the old style of politics is gradually and thankfully becoming a thing of the past. Today’s young politicians like Newark’s new mayor are running their cities from the streets. Is Cory Booker the Greatest Mayor in America? by Lucy Kaylin makes you believe in the future of some of America’s defunct cities.
2. South Africa no longer has the wisdom and steady hand of two of its most revered statesmen. In October at the age of 79 Archbishop Desmond Tutu retired. Nelson Mandela is 92 and November of this year his foundation asked that the public allow him to have a peaceful retirement.
3. At number four is the often abrasive, sometimes inarticulate Prince Charles. Recently interviewed by Brain Williams there is no doubt that above all else he has accomplished a lot through The Prince’s Charities and has been a visionary when it comes to the environment and organic farming.