This morning my quarters were so cold
I suddenly thought of my friend in the mountains
gathering firewood down by the creek
lugging it back to boil white rocks
I wish I could bring him a gourd full of wine
to drive off the wind and rain at night
but fallen leaves cover the deserted slopes
and how could I find the trail

Wei Ying-wu

[Translated by Red Pine, from the book, ‘In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu’. Copper Canyon Press]

A Scholar's Retreat amidst Autumn Trees, Ming dynasty (1368-1644) Wang Fu (Chinese, 1362-1416)

A Scholar’s Retreat amidst Autumn Trees, Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Wang Fu (Chinese, 1362-1416)

This lovely poem speaks of a truth in many of our lives. How many times have we thought of a friend, just out of the blue. How nice it would be to see them. Then, the various problems associated with seeing this friend ensue.

Too snowy. Too rainy. Too hot. Too cold. Too busy. Too broke. Not enough time. Always something.

And then, there are the friends who are not embodied. The friends long since departed, gone to some distant coast, or perhaps location unknown. We think about the memories we shared, the times we wish we could have again. Our selves which always seem somehow better through the lens of time and distance.

Maybe what we truly miss is an ideal. A thought. A time we felt strong, or wise, or vital. It’s always in the past, or the future, or somewhere other than here.

How could I find the trail?

Many times the truth, sensation or experience we seek is deceptively near. Our brains search everywhere for this ephemeral thing called now. Maybe you can pick your way amongst the fallen leaves and find the trail to your friend’s house by taking a detour. Perhaps wandering with no destination will bring you home.

Allowing yourself the time and space to explore in the present moment is key.

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Interesting Taoist text I stumbled upon. Might do more with this one later. Thanks for archiving it to be found!

Recently I’ve talked a lot about my experiences with recuperating from a neck injury. During one of these experiences with my acupuncturist, Stephanie, we were talking about the lovely Chi. Stephanie asked if Chi had ever received acupuncture. Of course! What self-respecting Chinese dog has not, especially with one with a name like Chi?

It happened about 5 years ago.

Chi, like many pugs, gets excitable at times. He’s not always the most graceful. Occasionally, he’ll trundle into serious trouble. On this particular day, he was playing with a stuffed ball on an elastic band. And he’d shake, and shake, and whack himself in the head with it. Over and over he would repeat this with no ill effect. He was really getting into it that day. He took one careless step, fell forward, and slammed headfirst into a wooden tv cart.

Poor baby cried, and snuffled, and was completely miserable. Chi would not allow anyone to touch his neck, or console him. We took him to the vet early the next morning. Luckily, he hadn’t broken or ruptured anything. Still, he had a slipped disc and was pretty wonky. One of the staff vets had experience with acupuncture for animals. At the time it seemed a natural thing to do.

Acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

Sadly, we didn’t think to have a camera in the vet’s office way back then. This is acupuncture being performed on Wallie Fitzpatrick, an 11-year-old pug.

One of us held him while the vet began placing the needles. This really wasn’t necessary, although it’s something most acupuncturists would probably prefer just in case. Chi didn’t flinch or make any indication that the needles were troublesome. The vet put in about 10 to 12 needles, clustered around the ruff near the site of the injury and then extending all the way down the spine. After that, the vet left us all to relax for about 15 to 20 minutes. Chi was not restless or in any way bothered. It was something to see. The vet returned, removed the needles, and sent us off with a small prescription of valium in case he became agitated during the healing process.

The prescription was nice, but Chi didn’t need them. He healed completely naturally on his own. He slept most of that first day, and exhibited some stiffness over the following 48 hours or so.

Skeptics may respond that natural healing time is around the same. I’m not a vet, and can’t really respond to that. I can say without any reservation that Chi’s level of discomfort went way down almost immediately.

So, if your adult pug or animal is showing signs of arthritis, pain, or other issues, acupuncture may be for you. Check with your vet.

I spend a lot of time looking around the web at causes and general pug-related items. A few weeks ago I came across a group relatively close to my area, and they are special indeed. They are National Mill Dog Rescue.

Puppy mills are places that are only now really getting into people’s consciousness. I understand why, too. I was brought up with those wonderful pet stores in the malls and shopping centers. I fell in love with a Peekapoo in high school just from cudding the puppy in the mall for 30 minutes or so. It’s a cherished memory. And, for years, if I needed a mental pick-me-up, I’d head to a puppy store. Cuddles given, cuddles received. These places can’t be all bad!

Pet stores in themselves are not bad. The problem is that often, pet stores use disreputable breeders who breed for numbers and sales and quick turnover — not for quality, health, and the best for the breeds. Living conditions are heart-breaking. Many live squished in cages only big enough for the animal to survive. Their feet never touch the floor. The animals used to breed are bred often and without regard for the animals’ health. Illness is rampant among dogs living in these conditions. When they are used up, they are of no use any more. If they don’t sell, they are of no use any more. And, bad things happen to these dogs then.

This is bad. And shelters and rescue organizations try to help these dogs. Often, they go to places where they never leave. Ever. And they die.

Theresa Strader was a lifelong lover of dogs, especially Italian Greyhounds. She had always been an animal advocate, but like many of us, she found out by happenstance about the devastation of Puppy Mills. This is an excerpt of her story from the National Mill Dog Rescue site:

“February 17, 2007, I arrived at the auction site in Lamar, Missouri – all new to me, I was completely unaware of what I was about to see and moreover, what I was about to learn. Little did I know that on that very day, I would embark upon the most daunting yet rewarding experience of my life. I distinctly remember every thought and feeling I had as I witnessed the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.At about noon that day, I laid my eyes on Lily for the very first time. As she cowered in the back of her cage, her jawless face staring back at me, I was overwhelmed by a flooding of emotions. I leaned close in beside her cage and made her this promise. “I’m going to take you from this hell and love you til you die.” I recall that moment as if it happened just today. In an effort to remain inconspicuous, I had to pull myself together and find the nearest exit. After a long walk, I found myself leaning up against the backside of an old barn where I slowly sunk to the ground in tears. I called my husband. I had so much to say yet nothing came out, nothing but tears. At that moment, I knew I would never rest again without taking a stand against the heartless cruelty put upon the animals that I have adored since I was a small child. The animals that throughout my life have never let me down. Man’s best friend. In that moment, on that day, National Mill Dog Rescue was born.”

Since that time, Theresa and her group have made several trips to rescue dogs just like Lily — the most recent ending just yesterday as the group travelled through Missouri and Kansas rescuing 80 dogs.  Over time, they have rescued over 8000 dogs from puppy mills.

Total trip costs of this trip are estimated at $16,000, and devoted allies have helped them raised over $13,000 to this time. Volunteers spend many hours caring for these dogs, giving them love just like Theresa gave to Lola. The time to foster, train, heal, and find loving forever homes for these wonderful dogs is,  indeed, “Lola’s Legacy.”

To see what you can do to help, visit National Mill Dog Rescue at:

http://milldogrescue.org/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/NationalMillDogRescue

Lolas

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BlogtheChange

A wonderful piece on honoring military dogs.

Dogs,Cats, and crap I talk about

Once upon a time military dogs fought valiantly side by side with their fellow soldiers…often putting their own life at risk…it was what they did loyally and faithfully.  And how were they repaid? During the Vietnam War, over 4,000 military dogs were used and said to have saved over 10,000 servicemen.  In one particular case a military dog by the name of Nemo was procured by the Air Force for sentry dog training. While under attack Nemo alerted his handler of enemy forces and charged into the jungle. Nemo was shot in his right eye, his handler was also shot in the shoulder and fell to the ground. Nemo refused to give up and crawled to his fallen comrade and proceeded to cover his handler’s body with his own.  Both were finally rescued and Nemo was fortunate enough to have been brought back to the states.  In 1973 after the fall of…

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Shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased — thus do we refute entropy. – Spider Robinson

Pain

Pain (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week was a time of great stress – deadlines, evaluations, things to get done everywhere I looked. As the days crept along, my neck bore the burden. It was tight on Monday, aching on Tuesday. On Wednesday I had my quarterly review at work. When it was over, I was finally starting to relax. Suddenly, my neck snapped out of alignment. Pain, great pain. That night I woke up and couldn’t rest at all. Of course, the dogs sensed my discomfort.

The two Manchester terriers, Cara and Mara, both wanted to make me feel better – literally. They both jumped up by my face, licking me. Despite my best efforts, the natural reflex to protect the neck kicked in, making me jerk in pain.  They kept licking and trying to get me to move or play to feel better. While this is great puppy therapy most of the time, it was decidedly wrong for this particular occasion. They were summarily dismissed from my presence due to the fresh pain they unknowingly caused.

Chi waited until the terriers had gone to lay across the room, and then he came up close to me.

“No, Chi! Go! It hurts! Go!”  After several rounds of this, I gave up. Chi refused to leave.

The pug gingerly step-stumbled over my legs, and curled up in a ball at my feet. He snuffled with considerable nervousness.  I was still mumbling my objections. Finally I gave up and let Chi stay there at my feet.

It may hurt my pride to admit that some relatively small amount of time passed before I fell sound asleep. And, once again, I became aware of how wonderful Chi is at the fine art of being present to someone else’s pain. By insisting on “being there,” Chi made the pain seem bearable. From that point, the time passed quickly until I could go see my chiropractor and get some treatment.

The next time your animal wants to simply lie with you or rest against you, don’t be quite so fast to send them away. They may well be giving you a gift.

In the meantime, I have an hour of massage scheduled for myself tomorrow. Time to rest and rejuvenate!

chi

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I wanted to thank you all for coming to read my Freshly Pressed entry and the rest of my work. I haven’t been blogging here very long, and to be honest, I didn’t expect such a thing for quite a while, if ever. Words cannot express my gratitude to each one of you.

While I have started to work my way through everyone’s blogs, it is going to take me a while to give each person the attention they deserve. I promise I will come, though!

In the meantime, I hope I can continue to give you content you want to read.

As for Chi…. he’s playing peekaboo.

Thank you again, ALL, so very much. — Sandy and Chi

Image

Hi. This is Chi.

I took over Mom’s computer tonight for one reason. I am here to tell you that I hate Facebook.

Mommy sits on the computer all day and night. When she comes home, does she take time to snuggle her pug? NO. She gets on Facebook and talks to other pug people. And she writes about me. ALL THE TIME. Sometimes it’s embarrassing, like the time she pinned my picture to some strange French Bulldog’s wall. My belly was flashed all over the world in a millisecond! What about my puggy privacy!!!! And then there’s the thing that happened yesterday with some trollop named Anderson Pooper. I know the NSA has files on me now. I’m humiliated and I can never leave the house again!

And you know what’s the worst? She will get into fights with people she doesn’t know and will never meet. Mommy, if you want to fight, we can play tug-o-war. I’ll growl real loud and snuffle and spray snot all over you! I can do that real good.

And then there’s the people who are gonna save the world. These people are funny. Mommy likes them too and she wants me to make friends with them. I don’t know, I’m just a pug. I like to lay in the grass and stare at dandelions. I don’t get how that can change the world. Mommy thinks it can, though. That and squirrels. And rabbits. I want to chase them and play games. Mom doesn’t get it.

Oh, GAMES! Those stupid Facebook games! If I see one more Bejeweled Blitz invite on the side of my pug wall, I’ll unsubscribe Mom just to watch her cry. And there’s the trolls. I had one troll on my Facebook page, once. The person apparently didn’t like bacon. How can anyone not like bacon?

Yeah, Mommy loves her Facebook. It is kinda cool though when people get together on Facebook and do nice things. Things like find all the puppies and horses and cats and llamas and stuff spread out from the Black Forest Fire. People got together on Facebook and got puppies like me reunited with their families. I would be pretty happy if Facebook brought me back to my mommy if we got separated.

And sometimes an animal gets into trouble. Sometimes mean people want to hurt animals. And sometimes people on Facebook will give money to rescue animals like me.  Sometimes they take them to the vet, though. That can’t be cool.

Mommy’s coming. I’d better go.

I HATE FACEBOOK!

Prompt courtesy of The Daily Post.

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Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Br...

Service dog sculpture at Metrotech Plaza in Brooklyn-2 (Photo credit: Martha Garvey)

After leaving work on a Friday afternoon, my mind is on many things. I think about how hard I have worked during the week. That thought is generally followed by “Only two days off! I need more time!” (Don’t we all think this one!) Generally, I then start compiling all the lists of “stuff” that a weekend entails: honey-do lists (heh), grocery list, schedules, stuff I need to do but don’t really want to do. stuff I really want to do but don’t need to do, stuff I really don’t want to do and will NOT do, etc. This is a process most of us go through, winnowing through the sheer possibility only to thin the list by finance and time into some vague structure to start the weekend. Much will get done, a few items will not and will then be shuttled onto the ever-lengthening list of stuff to do NEXT weekend.

Such was the case this past Friday. I was sitting on the bus as it prepared to leave the downtown area, idly people watching as I pondered what was for dinner. An immaculately-coiffed woman in a blue business suit sat down in a bench seat to my left. She fumbled with her oversized purse and brought out an iPad. She powered it up and sneezed twice in rapid succession, saying nothing to the several people around her who blessed her afterwards. The bus pulled away and started its journey, stopping every few blocks to pick up more people.

I was drawn out of my reveries by some shuffling and unusual activity at the front of the bus a few feet away. I saw the golden head before I saw the rest of the scene. The large golden retriever came onto the bus calm, regal, and quiet. I was on my way out of my seat at that sight alone, before iPad lady told me to move. I moved a few rows back, and watched the dog escort its master to the seat as people milled about, rather uncertain of what to do.

Service dogs never cease to amaze me. This was no different. Surrounded by strangers that might cause a lesser dog to panic and act out, this beautiful animal stood there as its master settled in the seat and then sank to the ground with only some pressure and murmured direction from its lucky human. When another person came to sit, the dog crawled under the seat of the iPad lady and settled right back in.

I don’t believe people understand the work and effort that goes into training a dog to perform as that one did on the bus. So much could have gone wrong in that simple series of interactions. I reflected on that small miracle as we made our way onto the interstate and headed north to suburbia.

I love and adore Chi, and have often thought of training him to be a therapy dog. There’s no way my lovable lug of a pug could be a service dog. He is too involved in responding to others. Most pets are, I’d think. I know that service dogs start their training as mere puppies with their trainers. Preparation time with these trainers can be over a year. There is a reason for that time. I usually witness service dogs leading their humans across streets, or walking down a hall. I take for granted what these beautiful animals do.

I am fortunate to work in a community that hosts two people with service dogs. Sometimes we are encouraged to greet the animals, and sometimes not. One of my favorite moments with a service animal happened at work, in the cafeteria at lunchtime. A black lab serves a blind man at work, and it’s a character to be sure. The dog was laying on the floor at the table next to us as the man enjoyed his lunch. The room was packed full of people. The dog was well behaved with the tiniest exception… it kept looking at us as we ate. My lunch companion and I did not interfere, knowing we should not interact with the dog, but it kept “flirting” with us anyway. A few months later in a conversation, that dog’s owner said he knew she did that, and sort of chuckled. So, clearly these are individual animals with individual personalities.

This golden retriever that came onto the bus was simply a magnificent animal. And as I walked down the aisle to leave the bus, I leaned over and whispered to the man. “You have the most magnificent service dog I have ever seen.” He broke into a smile so wide, so full of pride. In his world, that dog was clearly the greatest too.

The next time you see a service animal, take a moment and think about the miracle of training and love that takes place in order for a dog to serve a human.

Verse 26 – Gravity is the Root of Lightness

Gravity is the root of lightness,
Stillness is the master of passion.

The Sage travels all day
But does not leave the baggage-cart;
When surrounded by magnificent scenery
Remains calm and still.

When a lord of ten thousand chariots
Behaves lightly in this world,
Lightness loses its root,
Passion loses its master.”

~ “Tao Te Ching Lao-Tzu”, translated by Sephen Addiss & Stanley Lombardo

I’ve been reflecting still more on Chi’s sense of quiet, of flowing like water.  The thing that is really wonderful about working with the Tao Te Ching, of taking the low road, is that you learn an entirely new way of reacting — actually, not reacting — to things as you practice.

In our Western world we are encouraged to “strike while the iron is hot” ; “seize the day”; “take control”; “be assertive”; “don’t be a doormat”… and on and on the advice goes. Be strong, strike hard. Many of us become addicted to this confrontational, competitive style. It’s no wonder. These qualities are often listed among the most attractive traits for managers and entrepreneurs in the contemporary business world. These personality markers also thrive outside the office. Within sports, games, even personal improvement programs there is often found competition and different scenes of what could easily be called battle.

Chi sees most everything in his own puggy time. He is, as the Sage above, calm and still. (Unless there is a squirrel.) By allowing all of the millions things to move around him he gets to experience much more of his puggy world, rather than chase every single thing as his sisters do.

I am trying to allow time to flow like that for me as well, be it at work, or at home. Surrendering and flowing with things allows me to relax. It allows new creativity to flow. And, amazingly, I accomplish more than I would if I was running around after everything.

This also works beautifully in relationships. Allow people to come and go. Stay in the baggage cart being taken from place to place. Force nothing. Embrace the moment and be grateful. These seem like simple tasks. They are deceptive.

So, until next time, I am going to continue to practice this new receptivity, this new yin way of relating to the world. If you try it too, share how it goes for you!

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou...

English: Statue of Lao Tzu (Laozi) in Quanzhou 中文: 福建泉州老君岩 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)