Goodby Dear Lulu

Been thinking of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying while digging precious Lulu’s grave – as she lies sleeping peacefully on her fluffy bed. It’s not easy digging into a super hard, rocky ground but it must be done. Cremations are prohibitively expensive these days.

After much pounding away and filling with water, the hole is 2 feet deep. Hope that is deep enough to prevent curiosity of local wildlife. Meanwhile I’m grateful I don’t have to travel cross country with Lulu in an open wagon like Faulkner’s characters in the Dying book.

I want her to have as much time as possible so long as she is not in pain and experiences some joy in life. The joy is getting less but it’s apparent she is not ready to go. She is sticking with me on our journey through the travails of old age.

Lulu doesn’t understand anything about the ravages of time. She continually rubs her eyes against the rug and soft furniture trying to remove the cataract darkness from her almost blindness. She still sees forms and movements and never runs into furniture unless I fail to use the night light. I wish I could tell her exactly what is going on but alas……………

The big surprise development is her lack of enthusiasm for morning hikes in the forest. She stops at the door sill as the other dogs move toward the car. Occasionally she does want to go with us and I rejoice and also fear it could be her last trip.

Months later
My dear Lulu is gone now and I remain broken-hearted so many months later. She was with me for over 15 years and would probably still be here if I had not euthanized her on 11/25. We discussed it and also checked it out with the pendulum: it was time for her to go. She no longer just walked in circles around the entire house. She was spinning in place – non stop, and getting hung up in strange places, unable to retrieve herself. She was totally deaf, practically blind and unable to receive many pets on her bony skeleton. I loved her dearly as she loved me. We were never separated and will continue now walking into the dissolving future.

This is indeed a time of great loss for me: Death of animals, friends,
profession and democracy. The later is an ongoing process which continues to climax with each passing day. I have lost the will to write and so the lack of posts on this site. It’s all mental and seems impossible to overcome.

Positive Change Vs Disintegration

Precision, passion, imagination returns to the body that remained basically still for several years. All it took was the magnificent Eye in the Sky by Alan Parsons Project to have me dancing again as in the days of yore. Yep, it’s all mental and much change is possible with inspiration.

The root of my current inspiration is a new yoga mat made of coil filled with a nut fiber. It’s hard as a rock yet soft compared to the bare floor. I’ve returned to a slow moving yoga and today when the first notes of Parsons rang out I went into a kind of trance, capable of feats of flexibility.

Much of today’s music doesn’t inspire me to great heights of anything and I’m not a fuddy-duddy musically. I taught a bunch of punk rockers and thought they were delightful. But there’s something about today’s pop music that just doesn’t resonate with me. Much is loud, melody-less and generally boring.

But then there’s a whole lot that doesn’t resonate such as the world zeitgeist which is an ode to all the attributes we used to hang on a dark, evil world to be avoided at all cost. But alas, now the grotesque hand of sadistic greed is contaminating all levels of society or so it seems when dark actions are glorified by press and public alike.

Haven’t been writing much lately, not because I’ve run out of words but rather because I can’t find anything positive or shining to convey about ongoing realities so instead I slip back into the joy of moment to moment reality which is freedom for my being.

I would probably hang out on the Thai yoga mat 24/7, but I must be sure to keep Lulu off, off, off. This mat will not accommodate dogs. I want it to maintain its glorious pristine state for as long as possible. Bunny and Rosie get the message but Lulu cannot be trusted so I must wait for her to go to sleep before I fall into the trance of painful stretching. She has a sneaky way of creeping onto the mat which interferes with my focus.

Regarding the realities swirling at every level of expression – politically, socially, environmentally, and spiritually – it amazes that we hope for change as we continue to do exactly what’s been done for endless decades. Isn’t that an accepted definition of insanity: to expect change while continuing in same behavior. The same equals change strategy is rampant at every level of society.

I recall a major caveat I shared with all my students at NYU and private music students: I cannot accept any excuses for failures to practice because the excuses will continue throughout time; today it is one reason, tomorrow it will be another and nothing will ever move in a positive direction. It may disintegrate but it will not change for your well being.

In the teaching arena I’ve truly seen it all. In the ’70s I experienced unbelievable success working with ghetto children at PS 64 in Alphabet City, NYC. No one looked over my shoulder, scrutinizing my teaching methods, since students were thriving at all levels. This was a school in the 2nd worse ghetto in NYC, the first being in the Bronx. And when I rode up on my bike – usually verging on late, the kids in the play-yards would scream Odin, Odin. What a joy it was and I still remember the full names of some of my dear 4th grade students. Perhaps I’ll write about their amazing transformations in future blogs.

I also had great success creating,(with 5 others) the NYU Experimental Theater program and teaching at NYU for 8 years. And several Georgia music students had great professional success. Then I moved to Taos, NM where I no longer teach. There’s nothing to teach. Everybody here is the world’s leading authority on whatever is under discussion + they do not tolerate change + they do not practice. Even at the 1st level of diaphragmatic breathing they never master it because they never practice. For years and years they have said “I am going to do it” instead of “I am doing it.” Oh well – not my business anymore.

A Fox-tail Summer in New Mexico

Whew! What a summer. Heat, fox-tails and rattlesnakes are reminding me of the deep, dark, south and in particular Georgia where the ticks, fleas, gnats, mosquitoes and Newt Gingrich used to drive me nuts. I usually think of Georgia as the home of biting insects and right-wingers but this NM summer has been even more daunting primarily because of nasty fox-tails. I never knew they could be lethal and they’re everywhere including my little dogs ears. In case you’re unsure, fox-tails are the seed tassels at the top of grass stalks.

10 days ago my elderly dog Lulu started carrying her head radically tilted so that the ear was pointed down toward the ground. Following day her head shaking accelerated to the point she was shrieking in pain. We got to the vet immediately and had several fox-tails removed from each ear.

A little research revealed the horrors of fox-tails and dogs. They can enter the dog via the ears, nose, eyes, sexual parts and skin. That just about includes everything. And once inside they keep moving forward because the structure of the tails does not allow for retracing their forward-ho. And so they are labeled as possible killers with an ability to move into the brain.And they are known to cause serious infections wherever they lodge including the feet.

Had to get those tails out of the dog yard, What a job; they were everywhere and the temps have been in the 90s so I was on the job at the break of dawn with shears and rake, crawling about on steep hill sides under sap dripping pinons. With the beginning signs of emphysema to taunt me this job took days and wasn’t completed until after a second pup Rosie started gagging as though a gopher was lodged in her throat. Gave her a bronchitis tab and after an hour or so the gagging subsided.

We’ve cut back on our outdoor ventures. Not quite as many trips to the forest which is a sea of tails. The situation is worse for little dogs because they are eye level with the wind-stirred horrors. So now we must watch out for both rattlesnakes and fox-tails; not so easy with a deaf and almost blind 16 year old Lulu who stumbles and falls from time to time.

We’re quite a sight walking the trails. Often I think this is possibly Lulu’s final trail walk; it’s difficult for her to follow even tho she is on a lease. She reliably takes the wrong fork in the road which leads to a nice bunch of tails.

Bunny the short hair chihuahua always races ahead. She is quite a little Olympian, leaping over obstacles and rediscovering the river running beside the trail. When she smells someone on the trail she goes absolutely bonkers. She’s not on a lease and usually responds to voice commands. But…………she has the heart of a German Shepard and can be very scary. I need eyes in the back of my head to keep up with her rabbity ears darting about, ears that are prime targets for guess what…………….

Rosie the little Griffon is also on a retractable lease. She is totally unreliable and quite dangerous to herself. She lives in her own world, gets lost in her involvement with whatever and ends up in places she can neither recognize or navigate so she hides until found. The forest is too large to look for her silly self – so she is captured on the end of a lease.

Add to this little monster brigade the threat of coyotes, bear, rattlesnakes and foxtails and you can imagine how my head swims with disaster scenarios. Why not curtail outdoor activities? Yes I wonder sometimes if I’m putting them in danger but they love our walks and seem to get depressed after several days off the trails. I follow their wishes; I am their devoted servant.

Chasing Memories Into Infinity

In Active Side of Infinity Castaneda advises: recapitulation of major events in ones life and thanks-giving to friends who have been helpful. Got me to thinking about memories of daily events, simple happenings, throughout life. What have I done to fill the hours of my 77 years? Maybe I should write a book of one page for every memory I can recall. My feeling is that it will be a very short book full of trivialities. But it may reacquaint me with who I am.

The book project will require great objectivity in order to court truth by not embellishing or omitting relevant details. From time to time glimpses of moments flit by with missing details and lost conclusions. Which reminds me of Aunt Olga back in the ’50s trying to put names with lost faces and events. She kept asking my dad and other siblings “Do you remember?” At the time I didn’t understand the significance of her futile efforts.

We have heard from near death survivors that every moment of life rushes by as one moves toward infinity. That must be a blowout trip I would love to recreate and savor the experiences while in this life. I realize joy and great sadness will tumble about without mercy but it does appear to be a necessary adventure. Since it is considered part of the preparation for arriving fully conscious in the afterlife. Basically what is done is done and the rest is fun in one’s preparation for the unknown. It is unknown is it not?

Some memories are so very way out I have contacted those in the know only to learn that yes that is exactly what and how it happened. Sometimes friends have worse memory recall than myself and I remind them of events they had long forgotten.

My surprise to learn Memory is the subject of much study. There are endless classifications and processes that scientific brainiacs create and track with their magical viewing technology. It’s most interesting to learn the importance of sleep, known as the great consolidator of memory, most of which is done during slow wave sleep. Guess what? The more one sleeps, the better the memory. That is definitely compatible with my personal agenda.

A fairly recent study finds the elderly have greatly improved memory function in the early morning hours while young memories function better after noon into the early evening. And the elderly are more right-brain oriented, making them more concerned with the whole picture rather than little details. This makes for possibilities of much greater creativity when circumstances are right for personal expression.

I regret not having kept a diary of every single day no matter how insignificant. How wonderful it would be to review my entire life in print form. I did keep a diary for my 7th grade in Junior high and what a revelation of things I would have never remembered. I had only a sketchy memory of the delightful relationship with Jack, the class genius who expounded astronomy on fun filled hayrides and rowed the boat on bumpy rides in narrow creeks at Indian Springs, Georgia. What a marvelous life.

Buddhism teaches to live in the very moment one is inhabiting and avoid ruminating on the past and the future. Yes, that is really the way to move from day to day. But in terms of preparation for death I am more inclined toward the sorcerer’s way and the idea of reviewing my archive of memories before the review begins at the moment of death. Here’s looking at you!