Category Archives: Animals

Christmas Thoughts

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It feels like ages since I wrote – I’m aware my themes are sometimes similar and I’ve been lacking fresh ideas in the last few months; you’ve probably given up on me!

The John Lewis advert I think is delightful – it is simple in its message on one level but on another reminds us of the power of the imagination: the boy projects onto his toy penguin a real emotion, thus making the toy penguin live as a real penguin. What the unreal/real penguin desires is companionship – a very real need.  However fantastical the advert is, its deeper meaning is universal. And, when the penguin gets this companionship, his other friend – the boy – is as happy as he is.  Happiness gives happiness.

John Lewis

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Places of 2013 – the beauty of Oregon

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It’s been a topsy-turvy year for me and I’ve not been able to write as much as I would have liked.  I’ve also realised that it’s sometimes nice to write about something that is outside of yourself, so that is what I am going to do now.

I visited Bend, Oregon, in October and November of this year.  It is amazing landscape – expansive, at times mystical and bleak, and at other times epically uplifting – especially where there are llamas concerned!

Llamas

The area is known for its mountains and sleeping volcanoes.  To visit an area that has been an area of active volcanoes is to feel that you are at the end of the world; it is the land that time forgot or rather a land that has been left as it was when the eruption happened:

Lava

I was really taken into the emotional heart of Bend when I visited the High Desert Museum, which features wonderful insights into the wildlife, geology and people of the area.  I was particularly moved by ‘Snowshoe’, the rescued Lynx.  He was found wondering starving and close to death in California.  He had been taken in by people wanting to use him as a pet, and to make him harmless they had de-clawed and de-toothed him.  They got tired of him and realised he wasn’t what they were looking for so released him back into the wild (with no teeth or claws to survive).  I don’t know whether to call this ignorance, evil or stupidity, or a combination of all three.  It is certainly glaringly obvious that wild animals are wild animals, not for domestic use.  The museum now keep him in his own natural sanctuary – since he is now unable to look after himself in the wild; keeping him safe and fed in an enclosure is the kindest act humans can now do.  Visitors to the museum are generally disgusted and sad at how he was treated in order to fulfill someone’s need of a pet – he is now an exhibit but only because humans left him that way.  He is now at least admired and respected.

Snowshoe

Snowshoe

I have seen many sunsets in America – they can be beautiful anywhere in the world.  Here is one above the city of Bend:

Sunset

Finally – for this area of central Oregon, I adored Smith Rocks Park.  It’s one of those places you could stare at forever and you wish that you didn’t have to face the world outside it:

Smith Rocks

All my memories of Oregon will stay with me; I’ve seen a great deal of it in recent years – here are some other photos from other areas of it:

Florence, near the coast of OR

Florence, near the coast of OR

Again, the mist here made me want to throw myself into it and not come back out into the world.

Oceanside, another amazing place on the coast of OR

Oceanside, another amazing place on the coast of OR

Oceanside in the day

Oceanside in the day

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Columbia River Gorge, OR

Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Painted Hills in Eastern Oregon

Downtown Portland, OR

Downtown Portland, OR

The city of Portland is vibrant, bohemian, exciting, historical and beautiful.  And, it has the added bonus of nestling within the awesome Mount Hood.

Happy Christmas to all and thank you for reading.

 

 

Size isn’t everything

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I’ve come across another two small charities which I believe need a message of support.  I am struck by the much needed work they are doing – what they are doing also exposes how nasty humans can be to living beings they see as ‘lower’ or somehow less worthy of care and respectful treatment.

The charities are the Greek Cat Welfare Society www.greekcatwelfare.moonfruit.com and Animal SOS Sri Lanka www.animalsos-sl.com .  Both charities are registered in the UK, run by volunteers.  They are desperately trying to rescue the cats and dogs thrown on to the streets in Greece and Sri Lanka.  Not only are the animals neglected, they are abused – having been neglected.  It is shocking.

Animal SOS

These small charities are doing the biggest work – saving life where they can.  In the words of William Wordsworth

‘the best portion of a good man’s life – his little, nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and love.’

Greek Cat Welfare

What we can do….support the charities, be aware that when we travel – if we see something that does not sit comfortably with us, i.e. an act of cruelty, speak out (in countries such as Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia).  If we see a working animal abused – such as a donkey or a horse, report it to the many UK charities that are working to stop animals being used as tourist buses (charities include SPANA, The Brooke Animal Hospital).

And above all – don’t pay to ride on a donkey or a horse or camel or any animal.  It is likely to have been beaten into doing it!

Actions speak louder than words and tourists have a lot of power to change primitive and cruel behaviour.

Message of Thanks

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I wanted to say a big thank you to all the bloggers who’ve looked at my blog during its first year.  I’m grateful for you stopping by and hope you’ve got something out of it.  Thank you for your messages of support and interest.  Like all of you, there is something liberating about speaking into the midst of humanity even if like Amy Adams in the film ‘Julia and Julia’, I don’t always know who I am speaking to.

So, here are 3 paintings on the theme of hope for 2013.  The first is a favourite of mine – ‘Hope’ by G F Watts:

Hope by G F Watts

The second is totally appropriate for our time – ‘Hands of Hope’ by Anthony Hodge:

Hands of Hope by Anthony Hodge

The third shows hope through the eyes of nature – ‘Petals of Hope’ by Thomas Kinkade:

Petals of Hope by Thomas Kinkade

All three I think are beautiful.  I also have a quote which I found in the newsletter of a small charity doing wonderful work – Hands Around the World – www.hatw.org.uk

If you think you’re too small to be effective, you’ve obviously never been in bed with a mosquito.

Lots of small acts make a big difference.  One person can’t change the world but one person can change the world for one person, or one animal.

The Script Within Us

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We write a script for ourselves that sits within us – we probably don’t know we do, and we often use the wrong words or write the wrong story.  There’s an internal monologue in our heads that narrates our lives.  Are we always our most honest narrators?

It’s why art forms which use no words are necessary and valuable.  Matthew Bourne, known for his radical reworking of classic ballet, says dance is telling a story without words.  His new project, Sleeping Beauty, has been turned into a gothic romance where Tchaikovsky meets Twilight.

Sleeping Beauty

In many ways, non-spoken arts forms offer us a more neutral commentary on our lives.  Our lives are so full of words (which are not always truthful) – our own and other people’s, they crowd our heads.  Images, dance, puppetry, leave things open.  Bourne says ‘if you’re telling stories, it’s important not everyone looks the same.  I’m drawn to people who can act, who are “searchers”.’

We can look at a piece of dance, and it will communicate something different to each person, whilst letting us escape ourselves for a bit for ‘time out’ but at the same time, ‘time in’ to focus on other truths which we might not have considered.  The novelist Barbara Kingsolver says ‘It’s about how people can look at the same set of facts and come away believing different things.’

If you think about it, this comment applies to other areas in life as well as the arts – apply it to religion, love, people, the world…remember the ‘duck rabbit’ – which is it, and how do you know?

 

The working animals that keep the humans alive

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As Christmas is in the air, let’s not forget those for whom there will be no magic, no glitz and in some cases, no food.  I’m talking of the humans, but I’m also talking of the animals who are the lifeline for them.  They are their transport, their income, their companion, and often not treated with any respect or empathy – either out of ignorance, or out of cruelty.

There are thousands of charities asking for your help through buying their Xmas cards, gifts, donating and many other things.  Many of those charities are run by one person trying to make a difference to lives elsewhere – one of those charities is

The Gambia Horse and Donkey Trust www.gambiahorseanddonkey.org.uk

This is an amazing charity.

Many peoples’ responses to charities is that it’s a drop in the ocean – well, it takes many drops to make an ocean and if everyone had that attitude there would be no ocean.

It’s very easy to make a difference if everyone does something small – you can’t change the world but you can change the world for one person, or one animal…or both, if you understand how one needs the other.