Singing in the Rain

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The Show Must Go On

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Andie’s: First 31 Days

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Grief has seasons all its own. Time becomes still in the complexity of events, making oneself a greater whole of suspension. For many of us the future fails to unfold its customary promise of change or sustain the comforts of the usual and expected. The greatest irony being, that living in the moment is exactly the perfection of enlightenment. Who could have known how utterly simple it is. Death gives its  perfect gift of the absolute in that event, especially for we, the elders of our former lives, we the seniors, who once dreamed and planned, we the sojourners, who thought spirituality led to…..what exactly? All leads to death, and that understanding can blow the mind of the still young, the aching middle age, but not really a failure for the old man and old woman, who with common sense and expectation, ready for extinction.

Grief is a true dream in which reality seems surprisingly magical and temporary as the days go by, as the weeks and months fly and in them the music of the moments and the tiny simple joys may take the place of hope, making it immediate.

And so I find these days myself often laughing out loud as a little dog named Andie, a gift of the most perfect understanding from a friend of great heart, stands on my chest at five in the morning and proceeds to lick my head until I wake. What a joy to escape the nightmares that still sweep the depths of pain in the tumbling of nighttime restless sleep.

Andie is a little more than a year old and still holds that puppy amazement at life, which causes her to chase leaves in a breeze, and on walks eat cigi butts, tinfoil, candy wrappers, plum pits, the occasional rock and anything particularly distinguished by beauty of form and interest, such as only trash may reveal to a fresh new mind. She is a particularly intelligent, gentle and engaging pup, with whom the entire neighborhood, Meals on Wheels, the Post Lady, UPS and assorted strangers will agree, is immediately loveable. Other animals about the neighborhood, except for one elderly cat, find her agreeable as her short tail wags in greeting. She chases birds, so the love doves that have claimed the garden for some years hence, wait for the bird bath until she is inside, where she watches them splash in great interest; same goes for hummingbirds at the Oleanders, bees on the honeysuckle and flies on the screen. She misses nothing.

Andie delights in her toys, which like those great islands of debris the size of Texas  that drift in the Pacific Ocean, so do her gatherings of toys migrate from the study, to the bed, to the kitchen, or line the hall in a vertical line, somewhat different for her usual free-form arrangements.

She stays close by me, even when she has the run of the garden and wanders a bit to score the fallen wild plums. I can tell when she is successful, because she runs like a racer past me, into the house, and onto the bed, where she can enjoy her treasure without my interference. They don’t give her the runs, nor do the pits disturb her ‘regularity’ — an observation gleaned via plastic bag on our 5:00 in the morning potty places.

She regularly brings squeak bug into the study and drops it at my feet to remind me that it’s time to play. We also wrestle and rough house as she bounces at me, then runs off to return and parry. She takes my hand with the softest holding nibbles imaginable. Andie came without ‘papers’ which means nothing to me, but the quality of breeding in her line is so exquisitely demonstrated by the way she walks, sits, runs and well, yes, expects tummy rubs, wherein she will throw back her head and give me a warm puppy kiss. I am hers now. At night she rolls into a ball and sleeps in the crook of my arm, her head near my beating heart. Sometimes I look down at her, so tiny, so vulnerable and such a miracle that tears of grief have become tears of joy.  We are together in this empty house, which holds still the warmth of love that Trace, Bodhi and I shared for so many wonderful years. Andie has brought light again, laughter again and love. I am so grateful.

Thank you Sara, with love xxxooo  Andie & Michael

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Bad Cop: No Donut

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What’s Wrong with Police in America

“Americans got a glimpse of what policing is like in a more humane and civilized society last year when four young Swedish cops, on vacation in New York City and riding on a subway, found themselves faced with a bloody fight in the aisle by two angry black men.

A subway car full of New Yorkers watched in stunned disbelief as the four Scandinavian cops, all in civvies and unarmed, leapt into action. They used non-lethal techniques to pin the two combatants without hurting either one and then began trying to talk them down, calmly, never raising their voices, and avoiding any swearing or verbal abuse. Neither man was hit by any of the officers despite their struggling. As the Swedish cops waited for New York’s Finest to arrive, they gently rubbed and patted the distressed captives and spoke to them reassuringly.

It was not the way that situation would likely have gone down had it been four off-duty New York cops in that car. First of all, they would almost certainly have had guns on them. Second, they would have been shouting and upping the tension level. Third, they might well have applied chokeholds instead of arm restraints, and would have had the men pinned face down, with knees in their backs. Quite possibly punches would have been thrown along with kicks and stomping in a gang-banging frenzy. Given the history of prior such incidents, it’s conceivable that shots might even have been fired, and that passengers could have been hit by stray police bullets (as happened in a Times Square incident not long ago). One or both of the fighters might well have been injured or even killed.

Instead a violent incident was peacefully halted…incredibly with nobody hurt.

That’s how policing is done in much of Europe, where police shootings are almost unheard of. It’s how it should be done here.

But the whole concept of policing in the US is quite different from what prevails in most democratic countries. For one thing, abroad police are not ubiquitous in most places. I was in Finland, Austria and southern Germany last year, as well as in Quebec, and it’s actually hard to find a cop in any of those places when you’re looking for one. I walked for two hours in Montreal and didn’t see a single police officer, on foot or in a patrol car. Not so in New York, Philadelphia, Boston or even my local community of Upper Dublin, PA, where it’s easy to pass two or three cop cars just while driving the three miles between my house and the train station.

America is infested with police, and instead of responding to emergencies, they spend a lot of their time, from what I can observe, just looking for things to bust people for. Laws that can get people arrested have proliferated over the past few decades so fast that today most of us are probably breaking laws every day that we don’t even know are on the books. This country is so over-policed that departments are thinking up ways to keep busy by spying on us, and they’re using tax money and confiscated cash to buy fancy new toys, from “Stingray” mobile phone taps to drones (including armed drones), that will help them do it.”

Editor’s Disclosure: I spent my teen years in a SF  Bay neighborhood where the cops rode in unmarked cars and wore blue blazers. Still, we said: ‘ Bad Officer, No Croissant.’

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Rumor Has It

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Andie Sunday

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Stand By Your Man

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