Monday, February 25, 2013

In which I expound my ethos

One of the luxuries of blogging is that I can be self-indulgent and waffle on.  And the topics are many and varied. I have the luxury and extraordinary privilege of a good education, of a secure job, of being born into a first world country and into a family where reading was encouraged, religious beliefs were not enforced and it was not expected that my role in life was to get married and have children. Of having enough money for all my needs and some of my wants.  Being able to have my dogs, my books and a partner who loves me and is learning to live with my quirks (and vice versa, I will add. Much harder for me because I lived with just my animals for so long).

I have access to the interwebs and I travel them avidly.  Partly for information (for work, health, family issues, dogs), partly for amusement and diversion (drawing a distinction between the two) and to feed my recent enchantment with fashion.  Although I've been interested in decoration for a very long time, it's only recently that I've shed the idea that I don't deserve adornment and learned to have fun with clothing.  Most of my clothing is second hand.  Gotta love eBay, it's the only way I can afford Vivienne Westwood clothes.  Sometimes I worry that I'm just sucking information up and not digesting it.  But then, my recall is rather spotty, so I'll just assume that everything is stewing quietly.

Which is a terribly long-winded way of wanting to justify, in these zeros and ones of the ether, how I try to live my life.  This is no vaunting, it is as much a clarification for myself.  There's a pyschologist's tool where you have a number of different value words, such as admired, loyal, solitude, health, knowledge, creativity. Pile them quickly into "matter a lot", "don't matter at all" and "in the middle".  Then consider them.  And from the ones that really matter, try and pick a top 10.  Look at those.  Which ones are you actually managing to live?

My top 10 were: health, spirituality, self-knowledge, inner peace, solitude, ecology, comfort, honesty, tolerance and faithfulness.  I don't meet these all the time, but I try and I'm also getting better at letting go when I don't meet my own far too high standards.  But I'm meant to be expounding.  These values are all intertwined.  They come down to what I consider to be the basic premise of all true religions:  "live with respect".

Those top ten are in a lot of the way I try to live my life.  I try to be tolerant.  Stupidity annoys me, but I don't give a damn about gender, belief system, sexuality or genetic background. There are also people that I just outright dislike, but that's personality.  Dogs don't like all dogs, people don't like all people.  Health - meh, could be better, but I've been eating respectfully for decades. And by respectfully - respect for my body, which really does an amazing job despite all I've asked of it, respect for the planet, respect for the food itself and respect for the people who grow it.  We don't throw out much in the way of food - bones mostly.  Everything else gets eaten by us, the dogs or the chickens or put in the compost to feed the soil.

Spirituality.  I could dance about this, but as my mother has regretted, her daughter is not particularly good at subtle.  I'm a kitchen witch, a solitary.  I need to feel the soil in my hands, the moonlight on my skin, to be connected to this good earth. I am terrified of what humanity has done to Gaia, of how little time we have left, of how she is changing.  Despite having no great hopes, I will do what I can to live with respect, to leave this bit of soil in better heart, to try and tread more lightly.  It's bound with health, but using orange oil, vinegar, soap and bi-carb for cleaning.  Cooking is magic. Gardening is magic.  Growing some of our own food is magical.  To be able to travel into someone else's mind and time via a book, that's magic.  Music is magic, oh it can swing my moods and I can lose myself in it. Being able to co-exist with our furries, feathered and finned ones is magic.  I do draw the line at mosquitoes.  So the ecology is also bound in with spirituality.

We've put our money where our mouths are, there are solar panels on the roof for the hot water and to feed back into the electricity grid.  The house is insulated.  Even the lights in Nan's chandelier are compact fluroescents.  Grey water goes onto the garden.  We've four cars between the two of us (oh, the shame), but two of them are babied street machines (one of which runs on gas, the other is in a state of slow rebuild and hasn't fired a cylinder in anger for some years).  The other two are well maintained and rarely driven just for the heck of it.  Most of the household furnishings are inherited or acquired second hand.  And I've also tried to work with the concept of objects being both useful and beautiful.  Sometimes the use is aesthetic or tactile pleasure.   And certainly my espresso machine brings me much pleasure.

I'm also trying to live with nothing "for best".  All the contents of this home, all the clothes, all the books, all the china and crystal - they were made to be used, to be appreciated.  I think this also helps me focus on what I have, how much joy and beauty it brings, how lucky I am.  And to be able to give some of it away, to be able to make life that little bit easier or pleasurable for someone else.

It's a kind of magic.

Please skip if you aren't interested in dogs. The usual erratic programming will resume.

Exciting dog times, and husband whinging about being ignored again.

Winston actually passed the 3 year mark on Friday - amazingly he still has all his teeth and hasn't been put on doggy Prozac.  Instead, I found a homeopathic remedy to try and alleviate his jealousy and wind him down a couple of notches.  Lachesis 6c (made with the venom of the bushmaster snake from Africa) has made a noticeable difference - Wibbie seems calmer, more affectionate and I'm hoping like Hades that this is the end of visits to the vet for the other two.  He and Bruce are repeating the classes for Silver obedience, which presents its own challenges.  I think the new trick is going to be playing peek-a-boo.

Molly just continues to be gorgeous.  I have no idea how she manages this, because the Bullmastiff is hardly up there as contender for prettiest breed.  But she has the most loving temperament, gives delightful kisses (yeah, I know, even in 40 degree heat) and has a big boof head that I just want to hold onto and wobble (the way people are meant to like pinching babies cheeks).
What I only noticed (in this photo) is how glossy her coat is.  She no longer looks like Bat-Dog (her eyelids were turning in - entroption - so there were fetching diamonds shaved over her eyes for the surgery).
And my beloved Fearghus is being terribly greedy about the new season apples (Galas are first ones in - small, sweet, perfect for throwing around like a tennis ball, playing soccer with or just tossing into that gaping maw). Apart from just getting greyer all round (which brindle wolfhounds tend to do), he really doesn't show any sign of being a veteran.  He's seven this year, officially became an old man last year. Still carries on like a mad galoot, with happiness gleaming in his eyes and all of Ireland in them.  He's healthy, loving and I couldn't ask for more than that.
Canberra has just had it's annual Royal Agricultural Show, which is also a Crufts qualifier.  Didn't make it last year as I was ill, so did the bare minimum of chores to ensure I had the energy to go on Saturday (Bullmastiffs and Bull Terriers) and Sunday (Irish Wolfhounds, also one of my best friends shows Pugs, and that was their day also).  Totally ignored sideshow alley, didn't make it into the produce and craft pavilions or the cattle (which I would normally visit).  Nope.  Hung around the dog rings, getting rained on, watching dogs, talking dogs, photographing dogs and scooping up after the odd dog.  Weirdly, handlers seem to get embarrassed by this.  I figure it's infinitely easier to manage than having your dog lift their leg on you.  Yes, it's exciting when a wolfhound finally figures out that they can lift their leg and don't have to squat like a bitch (almost as exciting as when the brain fairy visits them).  But I would point out that their bladder capacity is something 'stonishing.  And your leg is wet for quite some time afterwards.  But there was a lovely Irishman handling a young Boxer bitch and he just laughed, because he's got a Dogue de Bordeaux and really, there's a substantial difference in output!
I grew up with Boxers, and apart from the fact that they seem to be more lightly built these days, there is also a LOT more white allowed on the body.  Lovely to see the gay tails on the move, most odd that they tended to just hang when the dogs are stacked. Sorry about the slight blur on this one.
 And one of the sweetest things is watching baby puppies frolic around the ring, having an absolute ball.  Like this great galumpher.
Properly solid and not making too much of a fuss about showing his teeth.  Do like a good strong rear.
The drive comes from the rear - this boy could do with a bit more and he's a bit fine for my liking, but he's not badly balanced. 
These two lovelies are litter sisters.  One of them does the Time Warp.
This young bitch owned the ring.  Beautiful profile, stands proudly and plays hard with the Parson Jack Russell terriers at home.
And Pugs.  They're another ancient breed, and this one expects to be treated like royalty.  And is.