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Friday, December 22, 2006

Calhoun’s Can(n)ons ,The Bay News, Morro Bay, Ca, Dec 20, 06



Solstice Nights, Sloughi Dreams, Reprised

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: The essential is invisible to the eye.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“Wooo,” said Qarima Zuri Sana McGurk, peering out of her crate at the end of the Northwest Airlines luggage carousel at LAX. “Uhnnnrrrrooo?”

Exactly one year ago, I had written in this column, “Sloughi, the whispered prayer to the Dog Gods of the Desert, that this time they will hear and will allow the awaited puppy’s soul to fly from the North African Deserts to the kennel in Iowa for a spring birth. And from there, Inshallah, a small representative of the prized hunting hounds of the Berber tribesmen will arrive in Los Osos, all wobbly knees and elbows, to join the pack. . . . And once again a new year may begin with a new life ready to piddle on the floor, dig holes in the sandy back yard, race with a new family in the dog park, and spend a puppyhood sniffing the sweet chaparral of a California spring.”

But things didn’t work out quite that way. They never do. The old saying still holds true: Man plans; God laughs. For over a year the household has waited for Zuri, and in the way of things, there were delays; a mis-mating, a birth that went tragically awry, and at this end, the sad unexpected losses of three of the Basenji elders, poor Finn MacCool, the rescued greyhound, miserable with his torn skin stapled up, wandering around in a protective but decidedly unfashionable tee-shirt, and me returning from LA. with a new puppy and a ferocious head cold.

As ever, the imagined Sloughi dreams of a year ago were very different now. But, finally, there she was, not a spring puppy, but a winter gift, a new beginning, the light of life coming at the darkest night of the year. Wooo.

And in the house, once again the brave nutcrackers gleam in the Christmas lights, but this year they have to peer over huge sheets of cardboard cable-tied together, an effect that makes the house look like Christo has arrived to wrap it up as an art project. Not an elegant look, but one that is a very effective way of living with a new puppy while keeping her safe and all my books and papers and CDs . . . and electrical cords . . . away from curious little teethies.

And so begins our winter journey. The California days and nights won’t be as cold as her Iowa home, but she will be surrounded by her new family and new territory to explore. Already she has discovered the boundless joy of digging big useless holes in the sand just to get a heady sniff or two of the big fat nothing that’s found in the bottom. Already her lithe, sleek black body has marked out a byzantine route through the various shrubs in the back yard, looping over and under and through, pursued by Archibald McDog and Finn who probably think she’s a weirdly colored rabbit to be chased. They have no idea that in a few months, she will be the one giving them a run for their money, after which she’ll turn on a dime and give them nine cents change.

If this small household has received a winter’s gift, new life, a new beginning, then perhaps it’s possible for me to wish that every household will have some small measure of the same, some light in the winter’s darkness.

In a world constantly filled with greed and murder and infamy, a world blindly sleepwalking towards its eco-doom in the winter dark, it is the ancient tale of Pandora that comes to mind – not the box of evils that she unwittingly loosed on the world, but what was left in the box at the end: Hope.

That is the thing that lights the Yule log, that illuminates the Chanukah candles, it is the blinding spark in Bethlehem, the warming glow of all the winter celebrations everywhere. It is Hope that sings of angels seen on high, and keeps a small child waiting for Saint Nicolas and the sound of bells, of improbable reindeer hooves on a roof.

And it is Hope that out of the darkness there will come new beginnings, even if it is only in the form of a small puppy that greets the world with a soft, “Wooo.”

5 comments:

Spectator said...

Simply a beautiful piece.

Anonymous said...

Enjoy the season with your canines one and all, Ann. We miss ours, both gone within three months of each other this past summer and fall. Thirteen years old. Most regrettable for us is the time in their old age that we had to spend this past year at the computer, on the phone, and at meetings without end, instead of with them. How patient they were as we said over and over to them, "Later." They died, and we were busy.

I remember the April 28th CDO hearing that ended around 10:30 PM. We didn't get home till after 11 PM. Because the hearing was scheduled to go to 5 or 7 PM, I don't remember the original schedule right now, we made no arrangements to have our dogs walked, fed, and combed and the lights turned on. They were frantic when we finally did get home.

In our empty house now is a strange loneliness. We miss the big presence and the big love of our gentle, patient goldens, Sage and Luke. This is our first Christmas in eighteen years that we don't have big dogs' tails as our reason for not getting a Christmas tree. This year we're simply too tired.

There is also the strangest liberation, the first time in eighteen years that we can live spontaneously, which right now means being able to get to PZLDF meetings on time, sleep in after getting home from those same meetings and staying up late writing more documentation for the water board. Sometimes we throw caution to the wind and meet in town for an early dinner.

We used to think about how we'd travel once I retired and the dogs had gone over the Rainbow Bridge, but I'm beginning to think that defending our home against the water board's plans will become my retirement job. It is already Bill's.

We saw a couple putting lights on a tree the other day. They seemed so carefree. We drive by all the homes covered in gaudy lights wondering how many of the inhabitants give even a thought to what we face daily. We will spend my two-week Christmas school vacation, not on a cruise to Hawaii, but in composing and coordinating our presentation for the water board to be heard at the next hearing on January 22.

The Trib never mentioned the hearing held on December 14 & 15th, and the Bay News simply focused on those who were so exhausted by the year of struggle and interference with their lives that they agreed to say, "Uncle."

Nowhere but here is a line given to those who are still standing - alone - to face down a grievous abridgement of civil rights, those who are standing up for the rest. I wish everyone could hear the language that I hear at PZLDF meetings, how we need to keep going, keep working, to help everyone, even those who have already signed, by our efforts. It is so different from the bitter invective for and against that appears all too often in the comments section of this blog.

Most of all, though, I wish citizens would contribute to PZLDF. It is everyone's legal defense fund. How long do they expect us to go on without them? Do they think that if they just pretend we don't exist they are safe?

Another thing I wish is that our former supporters would reappear. We are so tired. There are many small, tedious jobs that need to be done. A few are doing it all. I hope others will call Bill to offer their assistance. He can tell people whom to call to help in various ways. Our number is in the book.

Contributions to PZLDF can be made by walking into Coast National Bank next to the Los Osos Post Office and asking to have the money applied to the PZLDF account. The other way is to send a contriubiton to:

PZLDF
P.O.Box 6095
Los Osos, CA 93412

Thank you,
Bev. De Witt-Moylan

Churadogs said...

Bev sez:"The Trib never mentioned the hearing held on December 14 & 15th, and the Bay News simply focused on those who were so exhausted by the year of struggle and interference with their lives that they agreed to say, "Uncle."

Nowhere but here is a line given to those who are still standing - alone - to face down a grievous abridgement of civil rights, those who are standing up for the rest. I wish everyone could hear the language that I hear at PZLDF meetings, how we need to keep going, keep working, to help everyone, even those who have already signed, by our efforts. It is so different from the bitter invective for and against that appears all too often in the comments section of this blog.

Most of all, though, I wish citizens would contribute to PZLDF. It is everyone's legal defense fund. How long do they expect us to go on without them? Do they think that if they just pretend we don't exist they are safe?"

To the folks who are often commenting on this blogsite, I repeat what Bev has posted above. I, too, wonder: Where ARE all the people who clearly have hours to spend nattering on and on here, but apparently have no time to lift a finger to help the very people who are trying to help the whole community.

Through the hard work of these few folks, there may still be an opportunity to re-craft a true win/win alternative. The to-date offered "settlement" is actually in many ways, a lose/lose for those who signed. Yet, there still is an opportunity to re-start this process and re-craft a true win/win. But that will take support and funds donated to the PZDLF account at Coast.

So the questions remains: Where are all you people who clearly are passionate about Sewerville, and all things Sewerish to the point of obsession, but apparently can't or won't lift a finger to help your friends and neighbors while they struggle to help you.

There's the question of the year.

*PG-13 said...

Not to detract from the most committed efforts and very worthy cause of the CDO-45 and PZLDF. No, please not.

But there a time for working, a time for fighting (however righteous the fight), and a time for honoring all that which we work and fight for. Reading Ann's beautiful prose is a kind and soft reminder that the solstice season is a time for retrospection and introspection. A time to praise and honor those things we hold most dear. Whatever that is to you I wish you these precious moments.

The travails of a sewer are nothing against the love of dog. Or .... (insert your own object of loving reflection here). And the loss we feel when they are gone. Or the joy we feel when that love returns.

Thank you Ann. May your home always be filled with critter love.

And thank you all. You are a fine community.

Churadogs said...

PG-13 sez:"The travails of a sewer are nothing against the love of dog. Or .... (insert your own object of loving reflection here). And the loss we feel when they are gone. Or the joy we feel when that love returns"

ah, clearly you have loved and been loved by some mighty fine dogs in your time, methinks.