Friday, September 25, 2020

A Memory Of Errol And Me, 2015



 

September 25th, Errol's birthday. He would have been 74. 

I thought back on the last really lovely day we had together, at the end of January 2015. Doctor's appointment at UCLA for Errol, then a visit with our dentist in Westwood. Afterwards we walked, hand in hand, through Westwood village, where UCLA is located. 

We came upon a Farmer's Market, browsed the stalls, maybe bought some fresh veggies, I don't remember. What I do remember is everyone smiling when they saw us. It's a lovely memory, people smiling, us walking, browsing, and so not knowing what would soon come our way. A few months later, Errol was gone, I was alone.

Somehow my life went on in a good way with my dogs, my friends, new things to learn and participate in.

Even when 202o came with the unprecedented challenges of a pandemic, isolating in place, and feeling more vulnerable than I ever have before, I have not been unhappy. 

I feel terrible about all the lives lost, about the politics, the mismanagement, the confusion, and all those things. But on a personal level, I'm doing fairly well. 

Of course I miss Errol, but by now I can remember him with a smile: his ways, his cooking, his huge veggie garden, all the dogs he saved and loved so, his love for me.

Errol lived his life with his arms open wide. 

Loved by so many.

Loved so very much by me.










Friday, September 18, 2020

A Strange Story Of Two Goats

After I posted the donkey picture the other day, and read your comments, I realized that these wonderful animals bring a lot of joy. I knew this of course, so I decided to tell more stories from the time I worked at the rescue. 

After I retired from UCLA and we moved up here, the donkey rescue was located next door, on the property that Joyce later bought. As the rescue was just starting up, the owners asked if I would be interested in a part time job. I agreed and ended up managing the gift shop, writing thank you notes for donations, and writing stories for their news letter. 

Of course I was also hanging out among the animals and, as I got to know them, learned how wonderful, loving, and smart donkeys really are.

But there were other animals there as well. This is the strange story of some goats, two of which ended up at the rescue. 


One day, the owners of the rescue got a call from the Highway Patrol, asking if they would accept two goats. It turned out the cops had stopped a guy and, as they were talking to him, they heard noises from the trunk. Not sure what was going on, they asked the guy to open the trunk. I'm sure they couldn't believe their eyes when they found several goats in there. A couple of them were dead, but two had survived. 


And they came to the rescue. We named them Eduardo and Manuel, as they were most likely Mexican goats. The driver of the car was Mexican, as it turned out. No idea what he was thinking or where he was going with them, but so glad that these two survived. They were a joy and among my favorites at the rescue.


Here I am, feeding one of them a treat.


Playing chase, getting ready to butt horns, perhaps, but no doubt happy to be alive.


Best buddies, sharing a secret...






Monday, September 14, 2020

Donkey Love, Fire Safety, Caring Blogger Friends






When all else fails and one can't come up with an idea for a post, a smiling donkey will make everyone happy. Hopefully....

I didn't realize it had been a week since I last posted. 

After my last post you were concerned about the fires and now I'm concerned that I worried you. 

I think the most important thing to know is that I don't live in a forest. There are no tall trees close together here. There are  grass lands and juniper trees, which are spaced out. They will burn of course, but I could stand in the middle of my yard and they could burn without being a danger to me. Other than the smoke, which would be a  huge problem for my lungs. And with wind, my house could burn down. 

This is real and it is dangerous, but it's nothing like you see on TV, the large forests burning, with a long way to drive to escape. 

You may remember that I have to clear all weeds for 100 feet around my house by June 1 each year. Once cleared, nothing will grow back until the following year. So I'm surrounded by dirt, not the prettiest, but the safest.

The little towns that are located in the middle of these large forests in California are adorable, of that I'm sure, but with climate change and the increase in fires it has brought, living there is becoming so very dangerous.

And I'm sorry that I worried you. Up and down the West Coast, there will be smoke from the large fires. I heard that the smoke can travel 1,000 miles. And it's dangerous to breathe, so one has to stay indoors as much as possible. 

For now, I'm worried about Sally and my relatives in New Orleans. There's always something with the weather this time of year.












Monday, September 7, 2020

Smoky Dog Days Of Summer


Woke up to a very smoky morning. Fires are burning everywhere, it's scary and will get worse tomorrow and Wednesday because the wind will pick up. 




Samson has needed a bath for a long time, so this morning, smoky or not, I just had to get it done. It's not easy when you have to bend over him and your back gives out and begins to hurt. I think it's fair to say I got about half of him clean.


I took him in the house to dry him off a bit and brush out some of his fur. Then it struck me again, what a wonderful, patient, loving dog he is. So I just had to:


Hug him and kiss his furry forehead. I feel so bad, I no longer have the energy to take care of him. No, I do take care of him, it's just his fur that's so hard and I can't take him to the groomers because of he virus situation.


Then I remembered I have to drive the Jeep around for a while to keep the battery going until Wednesday when it's going to the shop, so I put on a mask and went outside. Faith saw an opportunity for some attention, so she snuck out.


And I let her run, while I drove the Jeep. I know this is not the smartest thing to do, because she may well believe that all cars are as nice as the Jeep and will definitely keep an eye on where she is and make sure to stop if needed. But there she was, free again, she seemed to say, after being cooped up due to the smoke. And with Samson getting all the attention this morning. 

As I drove around, I came upon the first Rabbit Brush in bloom. So happy! Fall definitely cannot be far behind. Or can it?


Happy Labor Day!



Sunday, September 6, 2020

Visitors, Bad Cars, Good People, And A Heatwave




Samson and Faith were surprised to find two large visitors in their very own backyard. 

Much barking ensued, but did no good because these horses' owner, my neighbor Bob, is a true horse whisperer. His horses and calm, they don't panic, they take treats better than your average dog. 


Bob lets them walk around free for part of the day, usually they go down to Joyce's gate, down the hill. I don't think they have ever been over here, sort of coming in on the back road. Even though I live very close to them. 

I called Bob and he came and got them. By got them, I mean he said let's go home and they just followed him. The only one he walks on a lead is the pony, who was rescued by Bob. It probably takes forever for an abused horse to recover. They are such sensitive animals. But I know Pony is very fortunate to have ended up with Bob, who takes such good care of her and so fully understands what she has to tell him. 



Worth noting, it will be 100 in town tomorrow and a few degrees hotter here in the canyon. But if you look to Wednesday you can actually spot an eight. It says 82 degrees on my Kindle Fire, Weather by Watson and the Weather Channel. (I hope I got that right.) 

Other than that, I've been a bit under the weather for the last ten days or so. But then larger problems arrived and so of course I had to get better. Half well at least. 

Both my cars broke down. At the same time! And I needed medicine from Walmart pharmacy. 

The Jeep with a flat tire and an iffy battery. Worse, the Honda lit up like a Christmas tree when I started it up to go and pick up my BP medicine. 

I figured if the Honda was going to be sick, I better get the Jeep going, so I called AAA. The guy put the spare tire on. It still has to go to the shop to get the flat which has a big nail in it, fixed. 

He took a look at the Honda, had no idea, and said that had to count as another service call. This happened on the 4th and my new AAA year began on the 3rd. Of this month. Talk about luck.

Mark came with his diagnostic tool and I checked the code online and it's something with a sensor for the water. So it will have to go to the shop eventually. 

Mark will take the Jeep to the Tire Store in town on Wednesday. I don't want to go because of covid-19. He's so helpful and charges so little, sometimes as little as nothing. 

And before he left yesterday, he managed to pick up all the metal left from the shed he and Ronica emptied for me a long time ago now. They used Joyce's tractor to crush it and make a pile of metal of it, and it has just sat to the side of my front yard since then. Not a problem for me, but clearly he wanted it out of here. It was so hot, but he persevered and got it done. 

Sometimes I feel so alone here, but clearly I am not.



This coyote pup has discovered the joy of eating juniper berries. She comes by most evenings. And is so adorable. I'm not sure it's a she, it just looks like a girl. A brave girl with no pack behind her. 

A lot of juveniles have come by, like a pack of their own, about six of them. This is the only one that comes alone. 


Samson guarding. He does not like any intruders, no matter how cute they are. 

The coyote has figured out that he's behind bars and continues to eat her berries. 


Meanwhile, Faith does what dogs do best, at least in the heat. Sorry about my slipper getting in the picture. 



















Friday, September 4, 2020

The Theater King Of Sweden ~ Part 3 - The Opera


 
Giuseppe Verdi

The assassination of King Gustav III became an opera in the early 19th century. In 1857, using this first opera as a basis, a libretto by Antonio Somma for an opera called Gustavo III set to music by Guiseppe Verdi was presented to censors in Italy.  

Objections to presenting a king's assassination on stage were raised. Many changes were made, including what became the final one, where the setting was changed to Boston in colonial times. This was approved and the name of the opera was also changed to Un ballo in maschera (A Masked Ball). 

In recent years, some opera houses have presented A Masked Ball as it really happened with the assassination of Gustav III. 

The Stockholm Opera

And A Masked Ball has returned to the scene of the crime, the Royal Opera in Stockholm. Albeit not King Gustav's opera house, but a new one built in the 1890s and inaugurated by King Oscar II on September 19, 1898.

How I would have loved to see this opera there. Sitting up high, third balcony I believe it was, where I as a teenager often listened in awe to the great Swedish singers of the time. I particularly loved Verdi's operas. Rigoletto was my favorite. 

A final note of interest: On January 7, 1955, Marian Anderson sang the role of Ulrica in A Masked Ball and thus became the first African American artist to perform with the company at the Metropolitan Opera, in New York City. 









Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Theater King Of Sweden - Part 2


Gustav III

There were wars, famines, corruption, and politics as usual back in 18th century Sweden. It's comforting to be reminded that  humanity somehow survives and moves on.  

I was always fond of King Gustav up to this point. In Part 1 of the king's story I listed his impact on Swedish culture, criminal justice, civil and religious rights.

However, after 1786, Gustav III became more and more determined to rule without a parliament, changing from semi-constitutionalism to semi-absolutism. 

He declared war on Russia in 1788, thus violating his own constitution. The conflict between Sweden and Russia had been going on since the 1600s and was about control of the territories around the Baltic sea, including Finland, which at this time was under Swedish rule. 


The ensign of the Swedish Archipelago Fleet 1761-1813

During this war, the Swedish Archipelago Fleet, officially a branch of the army, scored the greatest victory ever for a Swedish Fleet as it beat a far superior Russian Navy at Svensksund. This gave cause for concern for the Russian Empress and she wanted peace.

Thus the war ended by a treaty between the Theater King of Sweden and Catherine the Great of Russia. The war didn't change much for either side and Finland remained a Swedish territory for the time being. 

The Royal Opera House where Gustav III was assassinated.

At this time, the king also abolished most of the old privileges of the nobility. Needless to say, this did not sit well with members of the aristocracy. Conspiracies were common and there were frequent threats against the king's life.

On March 16, 1792, a masked ball was held for the public at the Royal Opera House. While he attended a dinner before the ball, King Gustav received a letter threatening his life. Since this was not uncommon, the king ignored the warning. 

Soon after he entered the ball, he was surrounded by three men, all part of the nobility, wearing black masks. One of them, a Captain Anckarstrom, shot the king in the back. The king was taken to his rooms, the doors of the opera house were sealed, and the conspirators arrested. King Gustav didn't die immediately, but his wound became infected and he died on March 29, 1792.

Captain Anckarstrom was later executed, but his co-conspirators received lesser punishments.




Part 3 ~ The Opera will post on Friday




Some of you may remember that I spent most of my summers in Sweden on the waters and islands of the Stockholm archipelago. It was special for me to learn about the Archipelago Fleet, which was not large, but tactical, being victorious in battle over the Russian navy. 










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