A BIT MORE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
To fill in those people who may not know, I post what I write on both of my outlets, firstname.lastname@example.org, as well as and Paws de Deux , my blog. Except under rare circumstances which don’t presently occur to me, my message is the same. That said, I will relate some more biographical background, to kind of fill you in as to why I have become the rather strange person I am—and which I hope you may find interesting.
As I have told you before, I was born into a rich family. And that is important because it allows for avenues and choices. Whereas, in a poor family, help by every member is of great importance, participation by members of a rich family is usually voluntary. At least that’s the way it was
in my family in the days of the Great Depression of the 20th Century (chiefly the 1930’s.)
Our connection with the Rest of the World was tenuous at best, even for the educated; and as a result, our values and our knowledge were tenuous at best. We had no connections with the world such as those we have today. Many of us—even today—do not want to know what is going on in the world. For those of us who DO want to know, we are blessed--in most cases--with conscience.
A BIT MORE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
THE PET PERIODICAL – The Rescue of the Rat
One day, I strolled from our house on the ranch down to barn, taking our four dogs with me, tails wagging, and noses sniffing the ground for scent.
As we drew near the barn, the dogs suddenly darted forward. I rushed after them to see what was going on, and found them sniffing at a long pole lying alongside the barn. It looked like a telephone pole—which it probably was. I yelled at the dogs, knowing that there must be some animal trapped behind the pole, and eventually, they gave up and went off in search of greener fields.
I stayed behind to see if whatever it was was all right, and eventually a small rat climbed up on top of the log, sat up on his haunches, and thanked me in rat language for saving his life.
This may sound like a really sweet story—which it is—but it has much, much more meaning to me. It was experiences like this that have converted me to the singular religion which was conceived in my heart and now consumes my mind and soul.
First, Some Family Background
Although we and our siblings are often recognizable as having come from the same family, we are just as often totally different, both in views and lifestyles. And so it has been with my family.
Also, keep in mind that we are products of our century, our time, and our history.
My father, Poppy, came from a middle class family in Buffalo, New York. He did not go beyond his sophomore year in high school, but he had a brilliant mind and a charming personality. At the time when I was born, Poppy owned a paint manufacturing company in Cleveland, Ohio--very possibly financed with the aid of my mother's inheritance from a very rich lake freighter family.
My mother, Mother, was--to my knowledge--the last remaining heir of her family. My memory of her revolves around the sight of her sitting by the radio doing needlepoint or reading Redbook or Cosmopolitan. She was not what I would call an intellectual, but she was an example of her time and class.
My older sister, Liz, led a miserable life. She eventually ran off with--and married--a rodeo cowboy, and they had two little girls, Teensle and Toni. Why it is that such awful things happen to the most miserable people, I don't know, but Teensle got into a drawer of prescriptions and swallowed a bottle of pills--which killed her. And that took away whatever joy poor Liz had ever experienced in her life.
My younger sister, Cynthia, on the other hand, was the "little princess" of the family. Whereas I was large of bone and struggled with overweight, she was--and remains, from her pictures--the darling of the girls.
My brother, Gus, was the baby--and the pride--of the family. He loved classical music (as do I.) Except for one or two temporary jobs, he never worked, until my mother sent him off to learn how to conduct a classical orchestra. He conducted various orchestras (as a guest conductor, I assume) around Europe and the United States. Next to conducting, by far his greatest interest was himself.
As the second oldest sibling, I, Anne--aka Duck Duck, Rudy in boarding school and college, Mommy, Ma, or Mother (depending on mood or relationship at a particular time)--have had an up-and-down existence.
With pride and conviction, I can say that I am easily the most mentally endowed and practiced of all the rest of the family.
And so, with all modesty, I close this enumeration of my family members.
THE PET PERIODICAL – Background
My family moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to a lovely ranch in northeastern Wyoming in the early 1930’s.
Our home was built under an enormous cottonwood tree—about a mile from the front gate. From the long veranda along the front of the house and facing west, we had a panoramic view of the Big Horn Mountains. And from the back of the house facing east, we had a panoramic view of a very long grass-covered mesa, a section of which was grazing land for our cattle and horses. And the foreman’s home, the bunkhouse, and the barn were situated halfway between our home and our front gate (to the west.)
Looking toward the mesa and to the right of the house was a small hill which played a prominent role in ranch activity. For it was that hill that our horses chose as a staging area for one of their most notorious tricks.
THE LORD’S PRAYER THROUGH ATHEIST EYES
Having gone from a three-year stint in an Episcopal boarding school to full-blown atheism in my declining years--thinking about values (aka Real Thinking) as compared to religious belief (aka Being Told What to Think), I decided to look up The Lord’s Prayer last night. And sure enough, it was all about ME! I tried to copy one of the many versions, but don’t know enough about the computer to do it, so I am printing it as I remember it from those boarding school days.
Our Father which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kindom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
For Thine is the kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory,
Forever and ever. Amen
Speaking from the mind of an atheist, there probably has never been a person in the world who has not sinned, and there are only two sources from which to seek forgiveness. The first should always be the person or creature who has been wronged. The second should always be yourself. There should be no other make-believe source, like God, that you should be able to seek as a source of relief for a guilty conscience. If you are too late, or if you did something unforgivable, be prepared to live with it for the rest of your life.
THE PET PERIODICAL – Two Smart Alecs
When we first moved to Wyoming, we rented a small ranch in the foothills of the Big Horn Mountains. And there we kept our black and white Shetland pony, Skunk, and our two horses at the time, Tex and Red.
One day, we came home to find the three of them in the corral, as usual, but with what seemed like an unusual restlessness among them. Skunk appeared to be his same sweet self, but the other two seemed to be putting on some sort of act. They were wandering around, noses in the air, as if they were humming softly to themselves. It was obvious that they had done something wrong.
Let me set the scene. Our saddlebarn was a long, one-story building built on stilts. You climbed up two steps, and that is where the saddles were. From there, to the left and down one step, were the goodies.
Upon closer observation, the two outside steps appeared to be slightly askew. Upon entering, we found two holes in the floor of the saddle room. AND THE GOODIE ROOM WAS A MESS!
THE PET PERIODICAL PRELUDE
(Two issues too late)
In this new periodical, I have decided to include stories of ALL living creatures, not just pets. Almost all of them will be true stories from my own life, while some of them will be musings on the state of things. Many will be happy, many will be sad or even horrifying, some will be stories which I have written before, but from a different point of view.
I admit to being an extremist—and hope that you can bear with me as I ramble on about the things that have made me who I am—and expect to be
for the rest of my life.
THE START OF THE END OF IT ALL
It suddenly occurred to me last night that the middle of the 20th Century was very possibly the Beginning of the End of Everything.
Many of us were born before World War II. A few of us were born at the beginning of the 20th Century, just as some of us were born at the beginning of the 21st Century. And there may even be 2 or 3 people still here who were born at the end of the 19th Century. But most of us who are presently here have been born since World War II.
As Shakespeare would say, “Aye, there’s the rub!”
The reason being that the 20thCentury saw both the great jump in world population, and the beginning of the Age of Technology. Technology has eased the work of most of us and increased our capacity to produce more and better of those things which, so far, we have needed and wanted. It has also made it possible for more of us to be born and more to live longer and better.
On the other hand, technology has cheapened many of our values and made them more personal and private, thus loosening our bonds with other humans and other creatures and living organisms on this Earth.
Tractors have replaced workhorses; cattle are for making your hamburger or steak, and chickens are raised in tiny little cages where they can see each other, but not mix. Their eggs are laid in those cages and collected each day for your comfortable and comforting breakfast, secure in the knowledge that they have not come from chickens just running around in a barnyard, living normal chicken lives (eeuuw!)
And now, since mid-20th century, mankind is replacing itself with technology. This brings to mind the many complaints about our President Obama and his failure to create more jobs for us. But don’t blame it all on him; he just happens to be at the nexus of the problem; and that is that WE HAVE RE-CREATED OURSELVES INTO TECHNOLOGICAL OBSOLESCENCE. We’re NOT NEEDED ANYMORE!
To all of President Obama’s critics out there, what would your solution be if you were President?
THE PET PERIODICAL
The Tail of the Tunnel
Before I moved to Santa Barbara, I lived in Oakland, California. I was a librarian, and I worked over the hills in Contra Costa County. To get there from my home, I took a major highway that went through the hills via a three-part tunnel.
The righthand tunnel always went TOWARD Contra Costa County, the lefthand tunnel always went TOWARD San Francisco, and the middle tunnel changed directions twice a day to carry the overflow traffic going toward San Francisco in the morning, and toward the suburbs at night.
This information sets the scene for tremendous traffic around three holes in a mountain every day of the year—and this was one of them.
I was in the lefthand lane, only yards away from the eastbound tunnel, when I came across a terrified German shepherd plastered against the divider between us and the middle lane, with nowhere to go.
Because the traffic was particularly heavy, it was also very, very slow, and so I simply stopped, got out of my lefthand door and opened my rear door; and it took no invitation at all for the dog to jump right in.
One wonders how many cars before me just passed him by, and the man in the car behind me was honking furiously. Surely, some may have passed him by because they just didn’t know what to do; others may have worried about their jobs and their bosses. There were no cell phones in those days, as there are now. (That reminds me of a suggestion for the future; if you have a cell phone, at least call the highway patrol, if not for the dog’s sake, then for the accidents it might cause.)
In my case, I simply drove into a neighborhood (miles from the incident, but the first I could reach) and asked the woman there to call my office and let them know I would be taking an unforeseen day of vacation.
Then, having NO idea where the poor dog came from, I took him to the Berkeley animal shelter, which was supposed to have a pretty good reputation. Having a bunch of rescued animals, including large dogs, already, I did not dare try to keep him even temporarily. Besides, I had a hunch his owner would be trying to find him.
The really happy ending that I got, however, was a reward beyond anything I could have dreamed of or wished for—as soon as I got in the front seat, HE PUT HIS NOSE ON MY LEFT SHOULDER AND LICKED MY EAR EVERY INCH OF THE WAY.
THE PET PERIODICAL
How to Rescue a Dog on the Freeway
You can’t be a freeway user and not have seen at least one dog in your life trotting along the freeway—almost always going in the same way as traffic. For starters, your first reaction should be to realize that rescuing the dog is YOUR responsibility. So go about thinking how to do it.
First, DO NOT attempt to pull over right away. You may well cause an accident that way. Moreover, if you pull over too soon, he will be well ahead of you before you get stopped.
First, be sure your signal lights are flashing properly, then gradually get your car to the shoulder of the road and stopped, and open your RIGHTHAND door without getting out. As the dog approaches, speak to it in friendly, welcoming tones, gesturing for it to get in. Speaking from experience, the dog almost certainly will be glad to see a friendly face, because I can assure you that it’s in trouble and it knows it.
If you are both lucky, this will have been just the first step of your rescue. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT take the dog to the next off-ramp, a few houses down into the neighborhood there, and let it go. That will NOT BE ITS NEIGHBORHOOD, and the dog will be more lost than ever.
The next thing to do—all the while, reassuring the dog—is to look for identification such as an address or veterinarian or rabies tag. If none are available, take the dog to your own vet. These avenues of help would be much less stressful than contacting animal control, or some such avenue alien to the dog’s knowledge. Call the latter, however, as a last resort.
You will be late for wherever you were going. Use your cell phone if you have one, to alert the person or appointment you will miss. If you don’t have one, get to a telephone as soon as possible for the same purpose.
All of this takes a great deal of time—BUT IT IS TIME THAT YOU WILL REMEMBER FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE.
New Subjects to Come Up
Yesterday, on our way home from an appoiontment, my caretaker, Rocio, took the freeway, which I hate. The reason I hate the freeway is the fear of seeing a dead, injured, or terrified dog and not being able to do anything about it.
But there ARE things you can do, and when I was able to drive and could make decisions about things like that myself, I did them myself—as do
many other like-minded people.
The knowledge and tools needed for such a task are:
Willingness to sacrifice time
Recognition of DUTY to help something or someone you don’t know
I will be writing a great deal about animals in the future, much of it from personal experience—and some of it with shame.
MESSAGE TO SOUL SAVERS
On behalf of all non-believers, of which I am one, I beg you to stop going door-to-door attempting to save our souls. Speaking for myself at least, I find this very intrusive and somewhat insulting. I would never consider going to your homes in an attempt to dissuade you of your beliefs. I can assure you that many of those who do not believe in God or practice other religions have very well-thought-out views of their own on the subject. Only some Christian sects, that I am aware of, are making overt attempts to convert others. But non-believers, to my knowledge, have no desire to convert others to our way of thinking, or to be converted.
A non-believer has spent years of his life thinking his way to a set of individual values which best suit his relationship to the vast Out There--the Earth, and its creatures (including vegetation and minerals on and/or under its surface.) We have a sense of responsibility toward all that we are aware of—and in my mind, that includes any rights or responsibilities we may or should have with regard to the Universe around us. Very few of those of us who THINK are concerned about what happens to us when we die. Thus, we do not have concern for any possible afterlife for OURSELVES as an urgent question in our minds.
As for the sins, large and small, which we have committed, we have already sought to settle them within our own consciences. Regarding any sins for which it is too late to seek forgiveness, we will carry them within our minds for the rest of our lives (as we should.) We would prefer that to seeking absolution through an intermediary.
I’M NOT THROUGH YET
There has been a great deal of talk lately about some Christians seeking to cram their religion down the non-believer throats of the rest of us by enshrining some of your mores in our Constitution. As a born-bred-and- will-die American, I am TELLING YOU to keep your beliefs out of my rights!
The two main issues between us are the RIGHT TO NOT BE BORN and the RIGHT TO DIE.
As for the first, there are many, many children who are born into this world with their futures already decided for them. They may be badly crippled or mentally retarded. For every such child, it may have a mother who does not want it, a society which will reject or deride it, and a future possibly growing up alone and unable to care for itself. (Your answer will be that there are lots of people who will be glad to take care of it, but even that kind of care does not really give it a LIFE.) And you seem to be stuck at the point of a dear little baby, just delivered—and not beyond, to a miserable middle-aged man or woman living in despair.
And your answer will be, “Oh, I know lots of exceptions!” Well, that may be, but they won’t come anywhere close to the number of those whose unfortunate lives follow the rule.
On to the Right to Die, many Christians with no connection whatsoever to a person who wants—or needs—to die, apparently think their own beliefs should prevail over the beliefs and desires of the person involved. Since death will come to all of us, such intervention goes far beyond concern to the apex of unwarranted intervention. The person in question may be suffering excruciating pain, or just as bad, unbearable despair.
In either of the cases discussed above, any decisions must be up to the patient, his/her doctor, his/her family, and any other persons the patient chooses.
Addendum: Isn’t it odd that this “Christian” country is willing to send out many of its young men in the prime of their lives to kill enemy young men who have been sent out to kill ours for the very same reason—sometimes one side, then the other on the defense or offense?
Well, without realizing it—or even thinking about it—overpopulation is largely what causes the wars in the first place, and wars are the means by which mankind will continue to try to control its overpopulation.