In Pursuit of the Common Good
I came down a pebbled path with perfectly sown trees, and felt like they were pointing the way forward for me. Glancing to the right, I saw an old tennis court, the type old handsome chaps, the likes of Redford or Newman would play a mischievous game on a warm Saturday afternoon. I immediately felt at ease hearing the bird chirping as the turret in front of me came into focus. I was tasked with walking the property and expressing some type of palpable vibe of the old estate. I felt oddly at home, despite in not being my own. Like this beauty, I grew up in a home built in 1927 and I quickly re-acquainted myself to the features of the time. The home felt fortified, the type a family longs for to feel secure in this world. It was built like a marriage of blocks and bricks; the bricks being the dash of color that the stark block white exterior needed to balance out the home. The crank-style wrought iron windows brought me right back to my own childhood and created the perfectly imagined scenario of my seven year old self “letting down her hair”. The flat plot and mature plantings made for an idyllic stroll through the property’s many nooks.
I was quickly awoken by the reality of weight of my camera in hand. I felt ruefully uneducated in the importance of the couple who have called this dwelling home for many years. I was given the cliff notes version. I knew from the exterior of the home, my vantage point would have me craving a more in depth look beyond the front door. The man who had lived here was none other than A.E. Hotchner, a prolific novelist, biographer and screenwriter who called Earnest Hemingway, “Papa” and Paul Newman his best friend. In short time, I understood that the man who had just passed away was a legend. In that mindset, the property took on a different essence. Upon each step I took, a story teller of grand interpretation, had stepped before me. I walked by an open garage door and posters were unceremoniously hung on the walls, the way one would put up a marathon poster after finishing the distance to remind oneself, “Hey, I did this thing once”; every time the groceries were carried in from the garage. The names on these posters, were just a fractal of the many people of theatrical community he brought together in the pursuit of the common good. His good deeds, were humbly tacked up to these walls.
I glanced over and saw a poster of the company he and Paul Newman started together and the idea of the man started to take better focus. The two had ventured together in the building of Newman’s food empire of good karma, better known as Newman’s Own. My friend told me a story of the two of them mixing one of their first recipes in a wash tub with a canoe oar. The familiar face on everything from popcorn to salad dressing would become a staple in so many of our pantries to this day, raising money for deserving charities. As I looked at the poster of this man with the knowing smile, It made me want to know him better. To do this, I would spend the rest of the day listening to interviews he had orated on his 100th year of his life’s many adventures.
Walking the property, I looked up at the towering trees. My imagination wandered as I envisioned with each foot of growth, over that timeframe, he would write a prolific book such as: “Hemingway in Love”, “Everyone Comes To Elaines”, King Of The Hill” or a living history of the one and only Sophia Loren. I was enraptured by the fact that someone could live so fully and tell about it to the profound age of 102.
I shot some images of the Koi pond wondering if he named his fish. The network of sheds with simple green doors housed a potting shed, an enclosure for peacocks, along with other relics of life’s day to day fancies. Another shed, clearly one with no one living in it, had the house number and a tiny door knocker, showing the owners sense of humor at life.
When I arrived earlier, some curious deer made it a point to stop and welcome me. This vision of serenity was a haven for living and breathing things to stop and simply exhale. As I did just this I was greeted by Virginia, Hotch’s recently widowed wife. Her posture was tall and she spoke with a refined resonance that seemed to perfectly complete her timeless and disarming beauty. Her Georgian accent, while it may have become more muted over the years from harsh New England winters, gave away her telling pedigree. She was the grace in their marriage, and I learned intuitively, the very key to what kept him fully raptured in life. As her acting career grew, they crossed paths and they would eventually share a marriage and this storied home together. Their story had all the makings of a Hollywood romance finely crafted even into his very last days with hand written love letters for his beautiful Virginia . As she may have been wearing her casual house robe today, in my mind she may as well had been wearing an Oscar’s gown while posed gracefully under the willow tree.
As the ground crunched under my feet the small details made me want to see more. Rather, I exhaled and listened , slowing my pace to embrace the details and focus on life’s good fortune. Each detail of a home, whether pristine or weathered, represents something far greater than just mortar or vegetation. It's sacred. It tells it’s dwellers story, something that is crafted and grown over time. Hotch one said, “Of course we all have our limits, but how can you possibly find your boundaries unless you explore as far and as wide as you possibly can?” Clearly, the boundaries of this home called them back from their adventures together, through the storied path of trees.
The Insider's View of The Outsider
I drove around the back end of lake Quonnipaug with the intention of capturing the waterfall and the surrounding barren sunflower fields. It’s not unusual for me to stop and get out of the car to explore the area to take an image. I came by a fence line that had been covered by some colorfully painted shutters and paneling. Someone gave them a new life jazzing them up with splashes of color. As I crouched down to take the image, I unintentionally saw a massive freestanding sculpture in the back yard. I had one of those feelings that I have experienced before, it made me think, "Do I move forward or retreat…"
I was torn. For three years, as I wrote and photographed my first blog, I learned quickly that to find interesting content and imagery, you just can’t be a wallflower.
The small cottage had character, clearly the home of the artist, I imagined. I knocked. It took a few minutes and from inside a dog barked and I could hear someone. I couldn't tell if it was avoidance or connectivity.
A man opened the door and I introduced myself as a fellow artist type and a photographer. In that very moment, we both assessed each other. There was a barrier, even if it wasn’t type you could see. I could sense he was deciding if he was willing to let me into his passioned world of art that covered every inch of space in his home. I wondered if anyone had really seen this spectacle or if this was a secret garden that this fully immersed artist only ever saw. From the outside was a row of modest lake homes, closely packed, endowed with all the traits of regular life. People would come and go to Walmart, mow their lawns, and drive their kids to soccer. Inside, just steps away from this suburbia was an entirely different world.
As I took a step inside, I looked around the small parlor room and was greeted by mannequins who were posed, perfectly dressed as if they were deep in a conversation I could not hear. I took a deep breath and rather than judge their quiet gazes, I introduced myself and shook the hand of the artist named Bob Parker.
He was friendly and I quickly felt at ease around him despite his eclectic display. He asked if I would like to see his art studio in the basement. Once again, I was torn over whether I wanted to take a deeper step into the somewhat macabre world I had entered. Around the narrow stairway, were elaborate handcrafted dioramas, way more polished than the type you would make out of a shoe box when you were doing grade school projects. I knew immediately that I was looking at voodoo alters, only because the last artist I had spoken just a week before gave me an entire lesson in the concepts around them.
They were beautiful, kinda terrifying, incredibly well crafted and just a tip of the iceberg in this creative dwelling. As I walked deeper in his world, I entered into a basement room exploding with color, light, and the kind of unexplainable energy that defined this man. I looked up and a heavy laden mesh full of lights intertwined with thousands of trinkets weighed down like a bulge from the rafters. He told me that he’s beginning to have neck issues from bending over to navigate this room.
My senses were exploding, and I squinted trying to focus on objects so seemingly unrelated yet somehow worked to create the perfectly composed puzzle. It was hard to talk as I took it all in because I wanted to focus on both the discussion with the artist as well as absorbing the seemingness endless content. I was fascinated by his work…metal bottle caps hammered into beautiful necklaces, hundreds of orange peels painted into a vibrant living canvas, tuna can lids positioned into a beautiful composition of reds and silvers. It was overwhelming.
At the surface, it felt like the plot of Stephen king novel was unfolding. But rather than feed into the fear that some of it evoked, I captured it’s details so I could go back and interpret it later. I was excited that he would take the time to pose for some portraits because he looked so at home next to his art and i was unsure if he had in his possession a photo of himself immersed in his world.
I was proud that he was willing to share his work because not all creatives feel comfortable doing that, especially this one who could unnerve the observer. I learned later that an artist like Bob in the art world is called an “outsider”. They aren’t afraid to reach into the depths of their minds and reveal what dwells. n famous outsider artist named Joe Coleman is known to spend up to 8 hours creating a square inch of space depicting his unhinged vision. In a similar sense I felt that Bob has a very organic approach where one piece of the canvas just grows from what was last imagined and concocted.
It all comes together somehow for Bob, in a frenetic pace that spans his every 24 hour day , he takes bits of pieces from all parts of life whether it’s his aunts dentures, or a business card or a candy wrapper: it all somehow deserves it’s spotlight on his canvas.
On the drive home, I passed home after home, all looking so uniform in this world. I kept thinking of the good fortune I had to dive into one that was so unorthodox and free. One so different from we often denote as the rat race.
A week later, I feel I have had enough time to let the shock factor settle in so I can share it with you. Before I did this, I needed an answer to the begging question, what inspires Bob? His answer was sent in a brief note… “I think there is a certain beauty in the depiction of suffering as in something like the crucifixion . I like edgy work that lets the viewer stop and ponder.” Job well done Bob, Ill be doing just that for quite some time.
I grabbed a pile of dry color-stained paintbrushes in my hand and placed them on one of the many canvas brought to life by Pierre Sylvain. As I photographed this, I pondered about how difficult it is for a creative types to sometimes just get started. Do you make an outline or just dive right into the palette with the paint color that feels right at the moment? I sat in the middle of a room surrounded by over a hundred finished works. I feel as though I am looking through a kaleidoscope as the shapes and colors come together on the canvas’s around me. Lights twinkling above me, I soaked in the breadth of what I was witnessing. I could feel the creative energy in the room filling every square inch and I could almost sense that if the paintings had arms, they would break through the four walls spilling their spirit into the world.
Pierre’s has taken his vast artistic journey in many directions. His life journey started as a boy in Haiti who loved soccer and would pick up his first paint brush when he was just around seven years old. Through the pigments of color, he explores the relationship of the symbols of his Catholic upbringing as it intertwined with his curiosity of Haitian voodoo culture. On the flip-side I turned around and found myself peering down Mick Jagger's epiglottis and could almost hear him uttering the words, "Hey you, get off of my cloud”. As we talked, music fills the room playing to the portraits of musicians, politicians and American heroes like Muhammad Ali and Ray Charles. I interpret it as a cast of characters who all intermingle out of his deep desire to connect the human journey. His trip wasn’t simple and without telling me I could sense this through his work. I could see joy and toil, all through a vortex of color. Running my hands through the pieces of tile he had cut for his mosaic, I tried to piece together in my mind who this man is.
Our son’s are the closest of friends meeting through Xavier High School and I am happy that our paths crossed. His son is the friend you want your son to have. I looked downward at a small ship model mixed into a black and white mixed media work depicting the plight of slavery. He comes back to the subject of our sons and reflects that telling the journey of raw hardship is a real way to teach his own children of the fortune and unbridled opportunity we have today. He smiled as he tells me that no one has an excuse when the world sits at your fingertips. I can tell he doesn’t take things for granted by the depth of his art, as he fills every moment he can exploring the visual and tactile world he dwells in.
In the moment, I imagine that less than a mile away, out of the depths of his basement studio, a world swirls, buzzing with cell phones, and all the noise pollution that weighs us down. As this storm ensues, he takes a steadfast approach of reimagining and dissecting all of its beauty with paint and chips of mosaic tile. It’s perfect.
There are very few full time artist, It takes bucketloads of grit and self awareness to endure the many tasks to find any type of commercial success. His willingness is admirable beyond measure.
He smiles an easy and wide smile; perhaps because his passion and willingness to work tirelessly on his craft makes him feel complete. He comes across not like the frustrated artist we so often hear of, but of one liberated by the colors and the brush stokes he chooses.
It may be time to start blogging again. A lot’s gone down since the last blog I wrote. I’ll fill you in as I go along. But I gotta be honest, I barely wanted to pick up a camera for well over a year. So considering writing again or telling stories with photos has seemed kinda like a crap idea until I went to the DMV today. It hit me hard while I was sitting in the DMV for 5 hours contemplating every square on the ceiling. There’s a lot that happens there. It’s much akin to our major milestone in one’s life. It’s where one is granted an open door to life's many adventures: road trips, showing your ID for your first official drink at 21, for a 16 year old it enables you to spread your wings and leave the nest, it can help you get a real job. They don’t make it easy. I sat for nearly 5 hours, with 101 people in front of me when I first arrived. It took over an hour to get my wait number, so I knew I was doomed. I looked at people walking by, every shape, size, skin tone, creed and MOOD. The place reaked of the sweet breath of last evenings drinks; not in a fun way. But we all had a goal that we were willing to wait for, as selfish as it was. I sat visualizing all of the people in the room stuck in their cars on 95 in bumper to bumper traffic. This is what it would look like with out the cars protecting our privacy. We were huddled and close like sardines. It would have been the perfect lobbying for the logic of public transportation. I stood next to a woman and we shared facebook photos. She said she may actually hire me, not to mention, I like her positivity despite out location. Then I sat next to a Hisidic Jewish man reading a torah so small, all I could imagine was the headache he must have as if waiting this long wasn’t enough. We talked for a bit calculating the quandary of why it took three hours to proceed through 21 people and just under two to motor through the the next 80 unassuming humans. Then as quickly as the discussion started, he was back to his scriptures.
I am incredibly thankful to those who answered my DMV question of “Which is the fastest DMV?" I can safely answer that Wethersfield is NOT. Despite the DMV evil lies of their website’s time wait table, we were all destined for the slow purgatory of the DMV.
I could feel the FB effect of bringing people together showing an immense amount of unity against the dark Sith lord of the DMV. But back to the issue at hand, I walked out of there with some more tools for life that had been granted by the nice lady at kiosk #26. She told me she actually likes her job if any of you were wondering. I left with a license bearing me the right to drive my dopey little Prius everywhere and a set of plates in hand so my kids could do the same. It gives the world proof that am who I am along with the person out there who may be walking around there with my identity from my lost/stolen license. It’s a good thing life moves forward thankfully, albeit slowly at the DMV.
A Marathon To Remember
I’m not sure if I can get my head around what happened today. To be truly honest, I didn’t know if I really wanted to participate in the Relay For Life. My entire community was going; my best friends, tons of kids and local faces. I wasn’t staying home because I didn’t care, it was because knowing the way Patti was, the last thing she would have ever wanted was an event designed to put her in the spotlight. So I thought, we’ll stay home, I’ll wear her special necklace and remember her in our own way.
But for some reason, we just ended up at the fairgrounds. As they say, events like these aren’t really for those who were lost, but for those who remain, those who beat cancer and those who need to remember. The kids said they wanted to run rather than do the customary walk. I gave them little instruction but to go have fun on their run.
At 4pm, the two started to run just after the cancer survivors would march their deserved victory lap. It wasn't like a typical race where everyone shoots out of a starting line. The survivors linked arms, some tearfully and walked forward. In the misty rain, the kids ran the perimeter around the set inner loop. 6 pm came and went and my Go Far duo continued to run as the mist became more of a steady rain. I stood in the middle of the fair grounds catching a glimpse of them here and there as they circled the event. With a steady pace, they continued together while our small community encouraged them along.
Neither of the kids had run further than 13 miles prior to today and the discussion of a full marathon had always been in the distant future. But, as the sun dropped, it became clear to me, that they were running a marathon. They were running unbridled with their emotions flowing raw down their sweaty shoulders. They spun around me like the arms of a clock and with the time that ticked by, so did the miles. There were no mile markers or a real defined course for that matter. While Chris and I have done our best to teach the kids the meaning of how to Go Far over the years, it is still a personal journey that one needs to breath in and exhale on his or her own. I just didnt expect that it would be today; or together. In a defining moment of their sister/brotherhood, they ran step by step together. They looped the fairgrounds over and over, and I became overcome with emotions. As the rain fell into the darkness, luminaries were lit, creating a somber reminder of light and lives lost. I became more and more choked up thinking of my own sister in law. But as the heavy tears streamed down on my rain soaked cheeks, I felt an incredible lightness and joy in seeing Peter running with his friends along side him as he finished his very first marathon. In classic Pete style, he was grinning ear to ear, soaking in the experience.
As the crowd silently traveled around the luminaries, Kate approached the group, closing the gap of her own 26.2 mile journey. It was raining hard now, she was crying but somehow she continued to run. The many struggles she had met over her previous running season had all but vanished as she fully embraced the pain. My worry for her was real, not for her pain, but for the very real thought that she may not be able to get through the insurmountable task she had set for herself. She turned to me and said Patti was helping her, she had to finish this for her. My reluctant runner, the one who at one time said that she that would never do a marathon, was putting one foot in front of another, defying her own odds.
A little girl that Kate had mentored during the Go Far Go Fast race a few weeks back had been cheering Kate along all day. At Go Far, the kids learn to support each other's goals starting in first grade. In a telling moment, I realized that everything that I had worked so hard at in creating this Go Far philosophy among our youth, had worked. They were there for each other. She reached up to Kate and handed her a yellow glow stick; a medal of sorts to memorialize the day. Under an imaginary finish line in the pouring rain, both girls hugged as her mother and I watched in tears as this incredible scene unfolded in front of us.
Wet, hungry and shocked at what they had just done, the siblings walked together, linked arm around waist, holding each other up. It was a scene I have witnessed so many times standing alongside Chris at the end of a long marathon day. I walked behind them, speechless.
Perhaps, the unplanned aspect of what unfolded today is what makes it so special. Maybe it’s the fact, that both kids reached this incredible milestone together, encouraging each other every step of the way. Then again, the beauty of today was in laying witness to so many in our community, standing together under the umbrella of cancer and holding each other up. In a era of shiny marathon medals and races with much fanfare, somehow this humbling experience would be their perfect introduction to the marathon and their defining moment of who they really are; we had stumbled upon the true spirit of Go Far. Somehow, they had been preparing for this day for years, but I hadn't realized it. In the end, I know Patti was so ever so present for my kids, I could virtually see her in the misty rain. While she is with me always, my kids had her fully in their hearts today.
Thank you to The Sokol Family and our wonderful community for facilitating and nurturing this wonderful event, which would end up being the most unexpected and unforgettable moments in in my children’s lives and one I’ll truly cherish for a lifetime.
Art As Her Beacon.
Today marked one year since I lost my sister in law Patti. I agreed with my brother Glenn, that we wouldn’t have some long painful day of remembrance constantly dwelling on the life she lived, that would be ultimately be snuffed out by the cancer she endured for three difficult years. The plan would be to do something that felt normal, that left me feeling good. I decided to head down to New Haven with Kate and her friend Maddy, to explore the Yale Museum of Art. For those who have never been there, the museum reminds me of a miniaturized version of the much more grandiose New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. The experience is no less grand however as it houses many works by the world’s most famous artist to have ever graced this earth. It’s a special museum because you can get very close to the art, so close that you can virtually breathe in the fumes of the oiled paint covering each canvas. What I love most about art museums is that in just a few paces, you can pass through different worlds and different eras that mark the most poignant memories of humankind. In one room I would see a laurel wreath adorning the marble bust of one of the world’s very first Greek Olympians, then travel through the great impressionist movement and end up perplexing my brain over the works of modern times. While I traveled through the rooms, I wore Patti’s long necklace, a gift my brother had given me recently. I wear it when I need something tangible to connect to her in my mind. The memory of her becomes clear as I realize that she, along with the many subjects in the paintings, are all part of a very large puzzle that somehow fits into human history. Being here was good for my heart, because I didn’t feel sad for her loss. The very thought of her fit in well here among this population of beautiful creations. The museum was a reminder that she had a beauty all her own, one that somehow is passed down in the lives she touched. Like these art works, she left an indelible mark to everyone who knew and loved her. Each artist told the human story so perfectly in the genre each knew so well. I found a connection to her around each corner. I saw it realistically, abstractly and even somewhere in-between, through the blurry paintings of the impressionist. Each of these artist proved that life and death isn’t so easy to put your finger on, it’s best seen as a compilation of different efforts telling the human story. Leaving the building, I breathed in the cold air, almost like cruelly being awaken from a blissful dream. Within this building, the colors, textures, emotions and very essence of life had swept me away during the visit, much like Patti had successfully done to those she knew in her lifetime. The truth is that while her loss is profound, we can still experience her friendship in the things we see and experience. Maybe, you too can see something that reminds you of the girl we loved so much, in some of these masterpieces. So let today, every day and every place be a beacon of her beauty. XXOO
It’s 12:40 am on Christmas morning. While my children are all snug in their bed, even as teens, visions of sugar plums, dance in their heads. As it turns out, even though we have moved, I believe Santa has found us. With a sigh of relief, I am happy he has. Dare I peek out my bed room door to see what he may have left behind? As I had just heard the pitter patter of dancing hooves, I sprang to the big picture window to catch a glimpse of the man in red. I squint to see a bright red light rising high over the water behind our home and I hear bells jingle until they have faded away. Why, it must be been ole Saint Nick heading high into the sky to carry on his work. While the festivities will flash by us in an instant tomorrow, this is my one moment to take it all in while no creatures stir. Since Santa has left, I take my chance to breath. I nibble on the other half of the cookie Santa has left behind and live in the moment that twinkles within the light of the lit tree. Christmas allows nostalgia to swirl through my mind. My childhood memories linger on in my grown up mind. So many Christmas’s have come and gone, it’s hard to fathom how I got to this point. I can’t help think of those that we have lost as well as a sharp reminder that all of this is so fleeting and a true blessing to experience year after year. In the same thought, there may be no better day to enjoy time with our families and friends and inhale the joy it brings. With Miles at my feet, he nudges me unknowingly as he drifts into a deep sleep. Perhaps he also dreams of Christmas and his hopes of a new box of lacrosse balls to enjoy. What ever is your joy, I hope you find it on Christmas morning and throughout your day. Merry Christmas everyone!
Boy Meets Bike
While cycling has a huge global appeal to its many fans, I like the fact that on a local scale it’s small enough to feel like a family gathering. Last year, back in February, Pete donned his warmest clothes and headed out for a ride. He loves the independence that it affords him as well as the impression of uniqueness that comes with being one of the few kids in his school that does the sport. During his chilly ride, a large peloton of cyclist passed him by on their Sunday training ride. Now further ahead, he saw one of the group members peel off and come back towards him. They struck up a conversation leading to an invitation by man who turned out to be a coach of a youth cycling team. Peter came home excited about the invitation. Unbeknownst to Peter, I had met the same coach years ago when Peter was in second grade. As I was starting up the Go Far program, Aidan Charles’s fledgling CCAP program was in its infancy. I distinctly remember telling him to keep his eyes peeled for Peter sometime around the time he could reach his pedals. Well as fate had it, their February meeting would finally bring Peter into the world of cycle racing. While he has always been a home grown product of our triathlon community, this new opportunity would begin to teach him even more about the gears that turn his his wheels. Once again, my hope would be to put him in a situation where great mentors would open his eyes to the sport. Quickly he found that with the coaches within CCAP program. He would meet kids his own age, bend a set or two of handlebars and solidify his love for the sport. The cycling community feels much like the rowing community I grew up in. It's quirky, intense, intelligent and driven. Now from this mother’s eyes, who spent her entire youth getting doused by the cold backsplash of salt water during many a January rows, I understand cycling’s appeal to a kid looking for adventure. On this chilly December morning, I watched him navigate this newfound learning curve through an orchard deep in central Connecticut. He would bring home mud as a souvenir as well as some very cold toes. On the way home, he would talk about how excited he was to take his new skills back to his triathlon community and feel the warmth of his favorite season on his now freezing toes. June can’t come fast enough. But first, he will venture out on many a Sunday ride with the group who had picked him up just by chance.
Woof, I think I have a problem!
Woof, this is Miles Schulten. While my mom is out taking pictures of another kid, I have been busy working on hacking into her blog. It’s a beautiful day, so I guess I can’t blame her for being away from her computer. She must be busy these days, because I notice that she hasn’t posted on her blog in a while. For weeks now, she has been building walls at the Durham Fair, watching my human siblings run aimlessly around cross country courses, and taking pictures of adolescents who have chosen to have her take their picture rather than using a perfectly decent selfie off their iPhones. I am writing to you to talk about a big problem that I have. I really need help and after reading a column in the New York Post called, “Dear Abby”, I thought, maybe some of my mom’s blog readers could help me like this “Abby" person who seems so adept at solving human's problems. Let me preface this by saying I don’t really know who I am. I’m a mutt. My past is a bit murky. I was told by my human mom that my dad was a big mastiff and my birth mom was a lab mix of some type. So we were unaware of my habitual tendencies until like most adolescents teens, troubles begin to bubble up. You see, it’s an age old problem I seem to have. While you humans may drool for a cigarette or a beer, or in my dad’s case, an endorphin fueled run or a bike ride, my obsession just may be exponentially more sinister. My need for this perfectly sphere shaped object is keeping me from having a decent night of sleep or getting anything done during the day. It’s become so bad that I have given up on chasing the UPS man out of the driveway thinking he may have a package of new spheres for me. The only thing that helps my mind briefly escape from this curse is an occasional dream of a curvaceous chocolate lab named CoCo. I call her Hot Coco…but I digress. The color, material or elasticity matters little. However, I do love the foamy mess that leaves a stain on the rug when I get an occasional sphere with yellow fuzz called Wilson. I believe that my human parents could have possibly contributed to my need for counseling when they bought a strange shaped stick called a “Chuck_it”, that helped the beautiful sphere go even further. In an effort to self medicate, I chewed up this throwing stick trying unsuccessfully to curb my habit, but ignorantly, my humans perpetuated the problem by purchasing me a new one that makes the sphere go even father. SOMEBODY HELP ME! Just the other day, while walking with my mom, I found a ball that I had dropped in the pond a few weeks back. It was better than Christmas, maybe even better than a date with hot Coco. So this is a plea to anyone who can read. I went so far as to write this message on the driveway so my humans would notice. Rather than get the message that I have a problem, my mom went running in to get her camera to snap a photo because she thought it was so cute. Maybe someday I’ll write about her photography “problem” and we can get some counseling together. Well I’m not sure if I have uploaded this photo correctly, after all, I have no opposable digits. But with the corner of my pad, maybe it worked. Please send more balls. "%$#&!” What I meant to say was please help me find a more healthy, life long passion.
Your loyal companion,
This is my favorite picture of my ball and I in the moonlight.
Raising a family...
In early May evening, my husband went into the back yard to turn over the garden. He worked on it for a couple of hours and as he unceremoniously turned over his last shovelful of soil, out came 6 baby bunnies. No one knew what to do. Peter, who had been helping in the garden, took the six babies who all had their eyes closed and swaddled them into his shirt. As I made dinner, I saw my son slowly approach the kitchen to show me his find. With my heart melting, I knew his had become a puddle. Hearing that bunnies should be put back we waited with little avail for momma to come back to her brood. In the mean time the internet search began. What do they eat? How warm do they need to be? How does one keep baby bunnies alive? Every web page suggested they be brought right away to a wildlife rehabber. When I looked online about them, the WWW said that no matter who cares for bunnies, there is generally a 5 percent success rate. Even in the wild, it is said that 90 percent don’t make it to adulthood. So I was in a conundrum knowing that my odds of keeping these babies alive were slim at best. Despite the odds, we took the leap.
Peter brought down the large fish tank that sat in the attic waiting for its next orphans. We have had a variety of critters take residence in this tank over the years. While he did this, I was off to the local pet shop purchasing $50 dollars of infant bunny necessities that were all somewhat of a mystery since people don’t usually raise the babies. We bought a tiny bottle which on the first night they promptly rejected. It was almost impossible to tell if they had drank anything. But they rooted for milk and we eventually figured that if we put it on their little coats, they would lick the nutrition off their siblings. The next day after much coaxing, they started to take small sips. Each had a different personality. One was hyper and skittish while another we soon named Jabba because of his affinity for food, as another just hopped over to Peter's lap whenever he could. We would go to sleep each night hoping they would all live into the next dawn and felt success with each living sunrise. We learned they needed bacteria in their gut, so we mixed it into their food. Soon, we would begin foraging for greens from the yard as they began to wean. They associated Peter as their mother as soon as they opened their eyes. It was he who would feed them three times a day and handling them gently, but firmly enough to help them get the food down. Soon they would be leaping towards the bottle as soon as they saw it coming.
As we reached the three week mark we knew it was time to start acclimating them again to the outside or we would have forever pets. We worried about them becoming humanized but knew in our heart, if they hadn’t, they would have starved to death. Peter was fully attached and I knew it was going to be hard for him to say goodbye. The night before the Go Far race was the first night they were to be caged overnight outdoors to be readied for release when a storm came in. The thunder and lightening had proved too much and we lost two before we could get them indoors. Peter, who had given his entire heart to these little creatures, had his own broken. The tears flowed heavily and freely as Kate, Peter and I said goodbye to our two little babies. For my boy, the loss was akin to mother who has lost one of her own, feeling like somehow he wish he could have protected them more.
Fearing more sadness, he knew it was time to release. We had done all we could, fed them, acclimated them, loved them. With our moving day only days away, we traveled to our new home and met with Alice, the owner. We found a good place to release our four bunnies. Peter thought it would be unlikely, but we had hoped that maybe we would see them again someday. Peter made a little nest of their bedding and hay in a hole he had dug under a plant in the front garden. With that he said his goodbye. We watched them hop in and out of the garden experiencing the new smells and taste that surrounded them. They would stay close to Peter like they were awaiting his approval to let go.
As the last one hopped away, we knew we had learned a tremendous lesson about love. We had fallen in love, experienced joy, tremendous sadness and eventually a type of satisfaction that comes in knowing you have done something with all of your heart. Thinking that they would become a memory, what has come of these little critters is somewhat remarkable. Now as we eat our morning cereal, we look out the window and see them eating their breakfast of clover and grass.
This experience has been priceless, one we would likely do again. While we were told that only experienced rehabbers could find success. Our interpretation proved that we had provided enough to give them a chance. Love is the best nurturer and in the end, brought out our best nature.
1 week later...