the well-read cat

There is nothing my wonderful best friend cat likes better than to curl up with me and a good book, or even a mediocre book. As long as he can comfortably situate himself, Tippy’s reading appetite is nothing short of voracious. Together, Tippy and I have delved into a fantastic array of places, people, and ideas as we turned the pages and allowed ourselves to be transported.

My tabby friend and I have had wondrous escapades like flying over Africa or sailing the North Sea or exploring beyond the planet. We’ve studied maps and pictures. We’ve figured out how to do things. We’ve pondered philosophical issues and romantic ones. 

Tippy has purred his way through many delightful pages, and sometimes sat on them. He has also patiently listened when I’ve tested the words on the page, reading aloud. We’ve explored rhythm and imagery. We’ve counted syllables.

True, with such a diverse catalog of reading, we have on occasion disliked a book, even found ourselves scoffing. We have, however, never found ourselves in disagreement.

Unlike my beloved Biddo, Tippy is not a book biter (a little bit on that here). No, although he does enjoy exploring the physical depths of a book shelf from time to time, he respectfully leaves the books intact. He is not, however, above taking a swipe at a bookmark.

Tippy’s joy in books seems to lie in the shared reading experience and, most important, the cuddling. In fact, from his nestled perch in my lap, he often insists that other tasks be put off, while we enjoy yet one more chapter. 

Yes, a well-read cat is a true treasure. Beyond words, really.

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go ahead, change the world

As we all watch our leaders in Washington struggle, yet again, to bring themselves to serve the people instead of, say, defense contractors, who can help but wonder what we can do. 

As we watch even the progressive “squad” demur from forcing Medicare for All to a floor vote during a pandemic, we wonder just what it will take to effect real change. 

Each day, as we see the President-elect prepare to nominate yet another empty-suited crony to a top position in the new administration, we struggle to know how real change, positive change will come. 

We feel powerless, helpless to change this massive system that rolls along and over so many.

And yet, it is we who really do hold the power in our hands. Short of organizing, beyond organizing, there is one simple thing each of us can do that would immediately trigger change towards the world we want to see. 

If we all really want peace on earth and good will to all beings, we will walk away from using and eating animals. It’s that simple. And it’s something any of us – yes, even you – can do.

The uncomplicated act of refusing to participate in our society’s oppression, abuse, and killing of animals on a scale beyond imagination is the beginning and the key to massive, positive societal change. 

If our society really embraces a whole food plant-based diet, we will witness profound changes in everything from much-improved health to a reversal of climate destruction (and just in the nick of time). We will break the grip of the cabal of corporations on government and in our lives.

We will change the world in amazing ways, turning toward a compassion-based way of life instead of the cruel competition that we were taught to believe is inevitable and normal. 

Cruelty, killing, impoverishment, suffering, control is not normal. Nor is it inevitable. We have the power to change it for the animals, and, in so doing, we will change it for ourselves and our culture. We will change it for our children, and theirs.

So simple. It’s something you can do. It’s enjoyable. There’s tons of support and information. Be delighted by what you discover.

YOU have the power. Step up. Go ahead, change the world.

opus

I look up to the sky
and feel my heart open
to the birds silently winging
so full of grace and purpose in their mission

I notice the trees
where the squirrels ramble
playful, elfin 
they melt my heart into a smile

On the mountain path
the elk and the bear and the snake
surprise my heart, filling it
with beauty and power and mystery

The ocean churns with its deep secrets
where a glimpse of the whale
captures the breath of my heart
in a moment purely wild and free

My heart beats with all of life
a radiant symphony,
the inspired strains of all beings,
each part essential,
melding into this profound work
complete and whole and perfect.

turtle in the pond

turtle in the pond
live free
and happy
while the sun shines down
and the leaves flutter in the breeze
and the fish swim by
and the birds dip low
and the dragonflies skitter past
and the greenness of growing things surrounds you

turtle in the pond
live free 
and happy
until day the researcher bands you
or the birds and the dragonflies mysteriously disappear
or the fish die off from pollutants
or the agricultural run-off chokes your lifeblood 
or the net dips down for you
or the bulldozers come

turtle in the pond
we are not so different, are we?
live free
and happy
we are all turtles in the pond

considering the food on our plates

These two won’t be food, thank goodness.

We don’t like to think about it very much. We are pretty good at avoiding thinking about the lives and deaths of the animals that we eat or use for food. It is indeed a difficult subject to contemplate, and yet it is an absolute, inescapable fact due to our choice to use animals, on a grand scale, for food.

Maybe we have seen the large trucks rumbling down the highway, and perhaps noticed the eyes and snouts of the animals packed inside. They are on their way to the slaughterhouse, but we probably never get that far in our thoughts. We just notice a truck full of pigs, never processing what that ride must be like for those beings, or exactly where it is they are headed.

As the trucks arrive at the slaughterhouse, it sometimes happens that there is a group of animal activists there. They are there to bear witness. They are awake to the fact that these are animals just like us. 

Just like us, the animals feel fear, they feel pain. They are sentient: conscious, aware, feeling.

So the activists bear witness to these last moments of these animals’ lives by speaking tenderly to them, by giving them some water to drink, by perhaps giving the animals the only real show of compassion and respect that they have ever known from humans — all while the animals are still crowded inside the transport truck. 

The animals were born trapped into a system that profits by their death. And it is all about the profit. These animals have never known freedom on this earth: born, living, and dying to serve another species’ market.

The protest also serves as an attempt to raise awareness of this cruel industry and our part in it. Rest assured, there would be no industry if not for our part in it.

On June 19, just a few days ago, such a protest took place in Burlington, Ontario. There was an additional impetus for this protest due to the fact that Canada, like its neighbor to the south, had just passed an ag gag law, Bill 156. Such laws are designed to further protect the animal agriculture industry, make it easier to keep its practices concealed, and insulate it from scrutiny or protest.

That day, one of the protestors in the Toronto Pig Save group was a 65-year-old woman named Regan Russell, a longtime advocate for animals and for other social causes. But at this particular protest, by the time all was said and done, Russell was dead, having been run over by a slaughterhouse truck.

It is my hope that even one person will stop and think about the meat on their plate, and decide to say no. In saying no, we reject a vast, cruel system of exploitation, one that abuses the animals, the planet, and, indeed, the consumers for profit. In saying no, we choose kindness and love and we help to open the world to more of that.

In the memory of Regan Russell, please give a moment to consider the food on your plate.

born of air #WritePhoto

Looking out from my perch, I could see the makings of an abundant day. 

My eyes turned back toward Volanta, yet asleep with little Piscea snuggled up beneath her mother’s wing. I tried to capture all the details of that scene, knowing that I would carry it in my heart.

I spread my wings and lifted from the cliff. I circled down over the waves, alert and searching. Soon, I could see Volanta arcing away from the crevice high above me, ready to join in the hunt. 

And there was Piscea, scanning the waters eagerly from her heights, flexing her wings. 

Weeks of effort had come to this. We gathered up another feast for our darling, knowing that soon we must let her go. The time was near when our young one would set out on her own over the waters.

Now, Volanta and I remain, looking thoughtfully into the dark, listening to the waves pummeling the shore far below. The ache of loss pierces us, but then our hearts and wings begin to soar again, confident in our beloved, and beating with life.

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Thank you, Sue Vincent, for the inspiration of this week’s #WritePhoto prompt.

a mystery to me

In the midst of the myriad urgent issues facing our nation and world, we lately learn the Trump administration is taking time to broaden rules regarding the hunting of bears and wolves in Alaska. They are revising public land rules to allow the hunting of bears and their cubs in their dens. Oh, and wolves and their pups as well. The new rules also allow for shooting caribou from motorboats and for the baiting of bears.

 I find these rules depraved on every level, but, hey, it makes for great sport, huh?

I am still having trouble getting my head around this. Who, exactly, really wants this? What constituency is pushing for such barbaric rules? And should we not perhaps be concerned about them? 

The National Park Service and the US Fish and Wildlife Service maintain that the broadening of the federal rules to accommodate such outright cruelty more closely aligns with state law. 

Hunters and tribal groups reportedly support the changes. For hunters, I question what exactly is sporting about killing animals and their babies in their homes. Tribal arguments about subsistence hunting wear thin as well. Subsistence concerns might be better aimed at simply securing the planet we live on before searching out bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens to slaughter.

Of course this is just a drop in the ocean of maneuvers the administration has made to ensure that we are able to pillage every last thread of life on this earth, but it is especially disturbing in its utter savagery.

What kind of people are we? What kind of animals are we?