The Cruelty of Spring

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I wonder if I just might finally get what T.S. Eliot may have meant, when he wrote that April is the cruellest month.  Or let’s say March, given that we here in the Southern USA are about three weeks ahead of the rest of the country. Spring, cruel?

When Spring looks like this?

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Or this:

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When, at the dawn of Spring, Bugsy looks like this?

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Or Barney like this?

spring2 004-cropSpring, cruel?

But sorrow needs know no special season. The other day I wrote something that stimulated pain in a dear friend. I walked straight into a wall of special sensitivity, to pain so great it is unbearable.

It is tough to walk the line of empathy, in a situation like that.

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Fearing that the next thing said will catapult the situation into the abyss.

spring2 009-cropIt’s a long way down.

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You don’t want to make a single wrong move.

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Psychiatrist Bessel van der Kolk says that one of the worst things about overwhelming pain is the isolation. The feeling that what is most dear to us, that which we cherish the most, can be a matter of carelessness to another. That we are alone in feeling the way we do.

We are lucky, my friend and I, that we share empathy. Thanks go out to Brené Brown, again and again, for this charming video honoring the life-saving character of empathy. I remember it often.

What can be Spring to one can be cruelty to another.

We must hold each other with great care.

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March Forth!

Nobody should ever forget my birthday. It’s today, March 4th. So if the memory-aide “March Forth!” sounds a little like something a Roman legion commander might bawl at the grunts to get them moving, I can’t help that. March 4th it is.

And also today is about as far away from marching forth as I’d ever care to get. At time of writing, the MidSouth is becoming inundated with freezing water, moving into black ice, sleet, and eventually snow. That’s all she wrote as far as marching forth goes anywhere today.  The cupcake with my good friend Pattie will have to wait.


And as far as the martial flavor goes, I’m extremely pleased to tell you that’s not happening either. Barney greeted me this morning with his customary cuddle under the covers, but with birthday value-added.

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He grabbed my arm in both paws and licked my hand. No claws. Purring all the while.

I was flooded with happiness. I wondered: What if that current looped both ways? What if my happiness fed into Barney’s happiness? And round and round? Wouldn’t that be an incentive to stay happy! I want happy cats!

I think this might be more than a “what if.”

I wonder. If those people whose idea of happiness these days is killing others, in increasingly bizarre and horrible ways, were to experience my kind of happiness, maybe they’d stop?

In that moment with Barney, I was sure of it.

Bugs’s version of “happy birthday” today was: “Where’s my breakfast!” Never mind. I love Bugs too.

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 Birthday present in a box.


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Struvites : Your Story?

Blog-friends, can you help? My bestie Kim asks for your experience in treating dogs or cats suffering from struvites.

Bugs is concerned.

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Barney feels boxed in.

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If you can help, would you please comment? Or re-post this – it would be great to get answers from a wider pool than just this little blog.

Kim is very knowledgeable. She’s used homeopathic treatments; raw diet; and supplements of glucosamine, cranberry, and cider vinegar. Even so, her two beloved companions – Ivy the lab and Stewie the cat – are having urinary-tract troubles.


Ivy and Stewie together

artwork courtesy our good friend HereThereBeSpiders

The guy in the next shot looks so much like Ivy, I bought the card to surprise Kim. But I figure the spoiler here is worth it. Maybe tennis balls are the problem. Except that Stewie doesn’t do tennis balls, and she has struvite trouble too.

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Is it something in the water? Except Stewie’s sister Meezer doesn’t have the problem . . . . .

Your help would be greatly appreciated.


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A Gift For Me, For You, For Us

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A friend and I were noticing the other day how some writers can be so self-centered. About how the reader can be left to wonder what the writer was going for. Was it important just to hear her own voice? Was she getting something off her chest? Sometimes it seems as if the audience just isn’t there, in the writer’s consciousness.

I want not to do that, not with any post in this blog. Though I am aware that the invitation otherwise is all too tempting.

Anyway, it’s mid-February, the groundhog saw his shadow, so winter looks like it could be here awhile. I wanted to share with you a gift Barney gave me the other day.

Cue SFX here.

biscuit-gifThank you, Barney!

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We All Need Somebody To Lean On

Poet Miller Williams died not long ago here in town. He wrote this, about compassion:

Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don’t want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism, is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone.

I find a lot to love, or not to love, in that short wonderful poem.

For one thing, google “spirit meets the bone.” You will find that an album of that name, by daughter and country-rock star Lucinda Williams, gets a lot more play than her dad’s poem does.

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Bugs, looking for justice.  He will probably not find it out there.

I love the phrase “no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.” It speaks to that enormous, so-often-unsatisfied need to be understood. Which need can be so neglected, our despair about its lack so great, that we might even end up thinking we don’t want any.

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I will not despair, yea even when the boys are more interested in OutTV than they are in me.

Interestingly, the phrase shows up in Corinthians 2:9.  But best of all, Bottom says it in Midsummer Night’s Dream, IV:1, as he wakes from the dream of himself as donkey and Titania in love with him. He says about that dream, in the goofed-up way with which Shakespeare pokes so much affectionate fun:

“[M]an is but a patched fool if he will offer to say what methought I had. The eye of man hath not heard, the ear of man hath not seen, man’s hand is not able to taste, his tongue to conceive, nor his heart to report what my dream was. I will get Peter Quince to write a ballad of this dream. It shall be called ‘Bottom’s Dream,’ because it hath no bottom.”

Ah Shakespeare, who hath no bottom.

I was thinking about this because the coat-stand on which I rely, due to insufficient closets, finally gave up the ghost. (The connection may not be immediately apparent.) Those who have followed this blog for a really long time might remember that Bugs had something to do with this giving up of the ghost.

But considering that Bugs did that back in May 2011, I’d say the coat-rack gave good value over its long life. Especially since I scavenged it in the first place. You would never catch me buying base-metal curlicues voluntarily.

The final straw was a new jacket I got for the holidays. Here is the poor old coat-rack in a tangle on its last splayed curlicued legs, propped up to half its height while I shopped for its replacement. You can just see Barney, peeking out from underneath the purple jacket. He appreciated the reduced version because he could jump out onto Bugs from under it, whenever the spirit moved him.

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My point is, even coat-racks need something to lean on.

The boys are learning this.

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Probably it’s the cold weather, rather than any deep philosophical understanding.

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As far as needing someone to lean on goes, for us humans, I like the great Bill Withers’ take of the same name. It is one of the most covered songs ever. Here’s himself, doing a somewhat lugubrious version.

I would offer you this other version, because it’s more upbeat, but for some reason whoever posted it put Al Green’s picture on it.

Bugs concludes there’s just no telling, with humans.

coatstand5 006-cropHe’s going back to OutTV.

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The Cold War

Good news for a new year.

A local grass-roots coalition has just defeated a utility’s plan to march high-tension wires across a bucolic portion of our state. Not to benefit us. The plan was to sell electricity to California until we “needed” it here. The people said no.

The people — and the land — won.


 photo by Dannelle Lobmeir Tomarchio

And in California, a new law takes effect today, one that the New York Times calls “the most significant animal welfare law in recent history.” Now chickens can spread their wings. “Gestation crates are on their way out, and battery cages will soon join them. With this measure, the table is set for similar action in states all over the country.”

Let us hope so. We in Arkansas are still fighting a “concentrated animal feed operation” currently fouling the waters of our pristine Buffalo River.


photo courtesy Oakley Originals

Here at home, we may have resolved the Cold War.

Barney was first to stake out the top of the new fridge.

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Bugs soon followed.

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Disputed territory.

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Maybe not such a good idea after all.


Wait a second. Why do I have to put up with this?

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The human bought a bed. That probably helped.

Uneasy alliance.

coldwar-detente 001-cropTwo-Pronged Peace Plan.

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Who Knows . . . .

. . . what the new year will bring.  Last new year’s eve turned into one of the worst eves ever. Taking Barney to the clinic, on slippery roads at 4:30 a.m. January 1st, for emergency surgery.

Those of you around this blog at that time really came through with the emergency empathy.   My WordPress “year-in-review” says the “emergency empathy” post got the most hits of the whole year. To say “thank you” for that, dear readers, hardly seems enough.

Here’s himself, now apparently in the pink.

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Barney. Bugs. Can we just stay in, this new year’s eve? Please?


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