Reading through the posts on this website on my 41st day of self-imposed quarantine, I realize I don’t want to feature stories of outrage and injustice and animal cruelty, certainly not right now. This worldwide crisis wakes me up to see things in a new light. I don’t want to add to anybody’s daily dose of sadness or anger. And who better than a pet – current or former – to bring us into the present moment and try to make the best of it.
So I will be adding to this as I go along, starting with the two buddies in my socially distanced house right now:
June 7, 2020 Now it’s about 92 days in quarantine! It’s too comfortable; I dread re-entry. The best way to convey my pet stories, or indeed any story, is video. I’m just learning and finding out it’s easier than mastering this convoluted Word Press site! So the Petolog video is coming soon!
Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still
for once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for a second,
and not move our arms so much.
It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.
Fishermen in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would not look at his hurt hands.
Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.
What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about…
If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with
Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.
I’ve looked forward to this space to share with you everything that bothers me. There’s plenty. For starters, I remember when words had specific spellings. I even won first prize, which was a pretzel, in a spelling bee – and that was in high school. And it was a good pretzel.
Now in the age of Spellcheck, anything goes. I taught basic English at Truckee Meadows Community College for several years in the late 70’s, and for one semester at University of Nevada, Reno. Even then, before Spellcheck, there was a dramatic contrast between students older than, say, 35, who knew how to spell and could write reasonable sentences, and students fresh from high school. The latter played games about attendance, and were just guessing about writing or spelling. It’s worse these days. I turn Spellcheck off whenever I can because I don’t like squiggly red lines intruding themselves into my work, but evidently most people rely on it. Homophones cause the most trouble, i.e. “grate” for “great”. Soon I will bring you some recent local assaults on the English language, but first, a historical piece from my semester at UNR:
THE TWELVE WEEKS OF MAKE-UP (to the tune of Twelve Weeks of Christmas)
On the twelfth week of make-up work my student brought to me:
One “his practice of philology made him an outcast from his religious circle”,
One “the vicarious king never helped anybody”,
One “Douglas’ work has gone through a transgression because of his wife”,
One “Lillian enervated her living room”,
One “Jeff took a class in autonomy so he could be a mechanic”,
One “The dentist used florid to rinse out his teeth”,
One “He’s got a lot of nostalgia, walking in here like he owns the place”,
One “Your vindictiveness is your best trait, you sly dog you!”,
One “Revelry is what the Army wakes up to in the morning”,
One “The boy was becoming a nuance to us all”,
And a final exam graded with a “D”.
The featured photo is Sue Ellen, resident at Fauna Foundation, near Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Staff says she is partial to scarves and necklaces. She’s an older girl: born in 1967. She is the only chimpanzee we got to see at a recent visit to the Foundation. Much more about this to come. If I had it to do over, I would be a primatologist. First, let me illustrate the progression of my current fascination with those among us labelled non-human primates.
Full-Blown Late Stage Obsessive Fascination:
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