omg this is so interesting! I
cant wait for next
Oh what parents will do to their sweet innocent 7 year olds. Sweet Child o’ Mine.
Attending The lecture on Friday at PCC in Portland on the tradition and change in Chinese Art. Will I see you there?
How did Chinese painting respond to upheaval in the past? The central question for elite painters was what models should one emulate? And how should one adapt and transform these models? If China was understood to be constituted in the creative participation and contribution of its cultural elite, then how did one “practice” China? In this presentation, I’ll look at how painting—the literati tradition in particular—responded to the 14th century Mongol occupation, and later, to the collapse of the Ming dynasty under the Manchu occupation. What happened under the Mongols was a quest for the most appropriate models of the past, models that would serve as the basis for an effective praxis that would enable the continuity of China. During the Ming-Qing transition, literati artists responded in similar ways, but in this later case, the literati masters of the Mongol period had become the chief models, and actual practice had become a conservative orthopraxy, one that a number of artists, often called “individualists,” challenged. These challengers never wholly rejected the past, but instead favored different models, and through them, a return to the drama and narrative of nature’s physical metamorphosis, an approach that they believed returned painting to its origins and to its fully creative participation with nature.
The house is so quiet, no little pattering of paws, no hrumphs or snorts in emphasis or protest, and no sweet snoring while I work. His smell is slowly fading away, his fur less often found lingering on a shirt or jacket, and the bed is cold and vast.
The sun came out today and Portland became excited about walks in the park. I cried. My friend, my bubby dog is not here to walk me amongst the spring smells sniffing flowers or linger with me on park benches or damp patches of earth under evergreen branches watching keenly for squirrels.
Orlando suffered from cluster grand mal seizures on the morning of April 3rd, and this time the hospital could not get them under control. I am still debating if the ability to euthanize such a dear friend is a blessing or a curse.
I have been sitting with my memories, my decisions, my misery trying desperately to find words. I cannot. He was more than words to me, more than a dog, more than a trusted friend or responsibility, more even than a lover or family. No. He was family. And to many, not just myself.
The sweetest of loves Orlando and I had. I often let him down. Stubborn and wicked sharp he tolerated so much. And with an iron will he blazed a trail of patience and wet discriminately given kisses. And now my body keeps moving but my soul has stopped. Left behind in time.
I wish to put his ears to my cheek and feel his soft fur, rub up against his forehead with my nose pushing my love towards him like a meatball, and kiss his cheeks with loud smacking noises. But only his blanket remains at the end of the couch. The room is dark and empty; echoing my chest cavity. It seems all the light in my life radiated from his coat.
Orlando’s last week was dark and rainy. I can’t stop thinking how nice it would have been to have this week of sunshine, parks walks, and spring lunches with him as his last. Little Man loved the sunshine. He hated butterflies. They would make him so crazy landing on his bright cream colored back, and he couldn’t make sense of their flitting not flying. He loved ice cream, especially in his own cup, one lick at a time. He liked to help plant things, sticking his nose deep in the hole you had dug and snorting the earth. He kept the best company when he lunched , charming small nibbles of roasted chicken at Green Chile Kitchen or savory crepes at Bean Bag Café from caring feminine fingers. Mostly Budda Bear and I loved to sit up on top of Alamo Square and take long sun naps between fog drifts watching the blue extend off towards forever. Orlando would lay across my rip cage lulling me to day dream with the rhythm of his breath.
In the summer he ate the bees. I am sure he didn’t know they were good for agriculture. He would snap them out of the air with a wicked precision and swallow them whole. He walked the long stretches of soft grass between the rows of roses, leaving no aisle unvisited. And then Monkey and I would plop down next to the fountain and read his namesake long into the evenings. Or we would take walks next to the Columbia River watching for cranes and sea lions. BarkyVonSnauser would cruise along in his buggy receiving royal chauffeur treatment. He liked to listen to Yo-Yo Ma in the late afternoons. Snoozing deeply amongst the embrace of the cello. And he never missed a picnic. Once in Portland we discovered Yoda was the best sous-chef, keeping an attentive eye on all kitchen activity. And that he loved bananas.
We took long road trips chasing the golden light of autumn. King of the Road he would hang half his body out the window balancing with the help of the wind. We went hunting with nose and camera bagging prairie dogs and buffalo alike.
Sometimes we only made it as far as Tybee Island. As the harvest moon took over the sky he would disappear, the same color as the sand, as he ran towards the horizon. The only indication of his return was the thunder of his pace on the damp sand as he blew past for another lap. He harassed the crabs and chased the waves as they broke on shore. On warm Savannah nights LandoLakes would chase the horses giving carriage rides or just snuggle up next to my legs after a long puppy romp in Forsyth Park and listen to the stories read out loud of Knights and Chivalry, Honor and Loyalty.
Hibernating deep under covers against blue fun-fur walls and warmed by the constant steam heat we slept the dark gray mornings of winter away in New York City. It was sometimes 1 o’clock in the afternoon before Mister would burrow up to the pillows and declare it walk time. During the rare snowstorms he would jump into the snow banks head first. On cold windy nights we didn’t make it much past the front door before retreating back to the couch for his favorite comfort food; mashed potatoes and mac and cheese from Mamas. He stalked the douglas firs as they were lined up down the sidewalk waiting for new homes, tinsel, and lights. Monster braved the cold as far as Whiskers for a bit of lamb lung and a kind word. Or as far as Thompkins Square Park to spend the afternoons with the talented ladies of Avenue A. Stir crazy from being cooped up he would take his aggression out of defenseless squeaker toys, ripping sharp holes in their necks and tearing their guts from them until they were rendered silent laying mutilated across the floor. Or challenge you to a vicious game of tug a rope with the ferocious soundtrack of growling and snarling wolves coming from somewhere deep inside him.
Orlando’s seasons are over. But he had many. I am thankful for the special memories. And I am thankful that we had great people in our lives over the years.
I am struck with how discomforting the lack of formality is. We spent seventeen years together, day and night. And if you have been fortunate enough to share your life with an animal companion you understand the depth and uniqueness of the bond. Virginia Woolf writes, “All ends in death.” And death was handed to me in a small tin. An ugly tin. A tin that would hold old tea never drunk or change collected at the end of days. A tin that would be lined with dust. It is heavier than expected, dense and hard to carry. It weighs enough to break a heart and wet a eye.
Instead I choose to remember his tenacity, strength, and awnriness.
Monk Monk fought a battle with several illnesses the last four years with a will that baffled many a vet. I never had to make a decision about his health care based on money due to the generosity of family and friends. I have set up a Memorial Fund in Honor of Orlando through SF Aid for Animals that does the same thing for people facing difficult decisions. If you would like to contribute you may do so at http://www.communityin.org/sf_aid_for_animals.html. They will not know the donation is for Orlando’s Memorial unless you also email them a note at email@example.com - you may attach photographs of Orlando here and they will post them on their website as well.