Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Alone Together - Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19

 Who would have thought in March 2020 that one year later COVID-19 would still be around, we would be wearing masks, and over 500,000 people would have died it? It is not surprising that books about COVID-19 have been added to the library collection. A new book that I found at the library is Alone Together - Love, Grief, and Comfort in the Time of COVID-19 which is edited by Jennifer Haupt.

 This book is a collection of short stories, poems, and reflections by a variety of writers. There is such a diversity of writing styles and content which makes it an interesting book. With so many perspectives on the pandemic and its impact on people, it is reassuring to know that I'm not alone in feeling the way that I do. 

Some things that stood out from the various poems and stories include: 

- Part of the tremendous unease during the pandemic has been recognizing that we are in the midst of transformation, with no clear sense of where it will lead and little reassuring guidance along the way. 

- We're doing these things we didn't have time for in the past because we were so busy with our lives.

Olivia making a barn quilt. She was commissioned to do a 
custom-designed barn quilt which is exciting!

- What's the new normal now? I'm finding that we're going back to some of the things that we used to do growing up and my kid is enjoying it!  

Enjoying watching and photographing birds during the pandemic.

- These shared experiences are bringing us closer together, and I think that's one of the gifts of this time, that we're going to develop some new old ways of interacting with each other. 

Making food for holidays and other special days.

- That's when I saw something I'd missed for a long time. Smiles. 

- Only when I noticed others doing errands in their pajamas did I realize that...people were going outside wearing the clothes they'd just slept in. It wasn't exhibitionism. Dressing had become as blurry as the days of the week.

- Our faces became armored with masks. When people approached it was impossible to determine if they were happy or threatening. 

Some of our Lions Club members packaging food for 

other members before a Zoom club meeting.

- Each week I spend triple (on groceries) what I did pre-virus and still feel like I do not have enough.

- The virus sheds and we shed what doesn't serve us so we can focus on what matters.

Enjoying a meal together on New Year's Day.

- In times like these, trying to produce any kind of art feels a bit frivolous. But when we're stuck in our homes and told only to go out when absolutely needed, making art is probably the best way to combat anxiety and atrophy.

Made window stars for Olivia's 18th birthday which 
also was her golden birthday.

- We can treat our pain and create change when we turn our grief and anger into action.

- The plans that had been the tent poles for my illusion of control were pulled right out of the ground. I had to make new plans, live by new rules, which took some doing.

- For the first time in her life, she must do nothing at all. 

- Somewhere in the past year, she has stopped waking up more beautiful each day. Something has shifted in her face and she sees age flicker between her brows then dive down to the two crevices on the sides of her mouth. 

- Grace is finding your own unique strengths and developing those as best you can. Grace is doing what you love and loving what you do.

One of the things I love is taking photos of nature - plants and wildlife.

- You want to keep arguing for those things you were passionate about fifty days ago, but you cannot remember what day of the week itis, you cannot remember the month.

- You see your family and friends via cell phone, via computer. Your hair is grayer. There are circles under everyone's eyes, there are worry lines accenting the corners of mouths. 


Conducting meetings on Zoom has become the new normal.

At this particular one, we had a speaker and bald eagle from The Raptor Center 

join us for a presentation.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Hiking Waterfalls in Minnesota

I came across the book Hiking Waterfalls in Minnesota - A Guide to the State's Best Waterfall Hikes by Steve Johnson. There are quite a few waterfalls that I would like to see that are mentioned in the book. Some of the waterfalls I have already been to and pictures of them are included. I hope that I have the chance to see all of these waterfalls within the next couple of years:

- Minnemishinona Falls - .8 mile, easy, from Mankato, follow US 169 north to US 14. Head west on US 14 to CR 41. Go south on CR 41 (Rockford Road) for 1.5 miles to Judson Bottom Road. As the road curves right, the parking and falls area is on the left. In St. Peter.

- Caron Falls - .8 mile, easy, in Caron Park in Faribault.

- Hidden Falls - Nerstrand Big Woods State Park - .8 mile, easy, 970 170th Street East, Nerstrand.

- Little Cannon Falls - .4 mile, easy, From US 52 in Cannon Falls, exit at MN 19 and head east for .7 mile to the Cannon Valley Trail parking lot area. Cannon Falls. 

- Vermillion Falls - .2 mile, easy, in Vermillion Falls Park, Hastings. 

- Hidden Falls - .6 mile, easy, from MN 5 at the Mendota Bridge, head north across the Mississippi River. Exit on Mississippi River Boulevard and head north for 1.3 miles to the park entrance. 

- Minnehaha Falls - .4 mile, easy, Minneapolis. 

My parents, Sophia, Olivia, and I went to see Minnehaha Falls on June 11, 2011.
It was where my parents had their first date. 

- St. Anthony Falls - .5 mile, easy, Minneapolis.

- Fairy Falls - .4 mile, difficult, Stillwater. Off of MN 95. Go on 96 west for about .1 mile to CR 11 (Boom Road). Turn right onto Fairy Falls Road and turn left up the hill to Orwell Avenue. Turnout parking is available on Orwell. Look for the footpath heading into the woods directly across from Orwell Avenue.

Sophia, Olivia, and I went to Fairy Falls on June 1, 2008.

- Marine Mills Falls - .2 mile, easy, Marine on St. Croix.

Sophia, Olivia, and I went to Marine Mills Falls on June 1, 2008.

- Curtain Falls - Interstate State Park - 1-mile lollipop loop, moderate with steep steps, Taylors Falls. The tiny waterfall depends on snowmelt and seasonal rains. 

- Big Spring Falls and Wolf Creek Falls - Banning State Park - 1 mile for Wolf Creek and .2 mile for Big Springs Falls, moderate, Sandstone. 

- Swinging Bridge Falls and St. Lous Falls - Jay Cooke State Park - .3 mile, easy.

Sophia, Olivia, and I went to Jay Cooke State Park on June 4, 2013.
There once was a swinging bridge at this site, but flooding took it out.
It has since been replaced.

- Oldenburg Cascades - Jay Cooke State Park - 1.4 mile, difficult. It's near the Oldenburg Point picnic area.

- Kingsburg Creek Falls - 1.4 mile lollipop loop, moderate, Duluth. From I-35 in Duluth, take the Grand Avenue exit and head south for one mile to the zoo entrance. The trailhead is at the northwest corner of the lot.

- Falls of Miller Creek - .8 mile, easy, Duluth. From I-35 in Duluth, take the 27th Avenue exit. Turn left and follow 27th Avenue for eight blocks to 3rd Street. Turn right and go one block to the Lincoln Park entrance on the left. 

- Falls of Chester Creek - .4 mile, moderate with some steep sections, Duluth. From Superior Street in Duluth, follow 15th Avenue to its blend with Chester Park Drive. Continue on Chester Park Drive to the parking area for Chester Park. From the main parking area, follow the stone steps on either side of Skyline Parkway down to the creek and the trail. The waterfalls start here and continue downstream. 

- Falls of Tischer Creek - 1.2 mile loop, easy, Duluth. From London Road (MN 61) in Duluth, follow 32nd Avenue North to its junction with Congdon Park Drive. At East 1st Street, turn right to reach the creek. Follow the craggy stone steps down to the creekside trail.

- Falls of Amity Creek - Amity and Lester Parks - .8 mile for the first waterfall and .1 for the second and third falls, easy, Duluth. From London Road, follow North 60th Avenue north to East Superior Street. Turn right. After two blocks, turn left on Occidental Boulevard. Park in the turnout. Follow the rustic path about the creek. The second waterfall is .4 mile north on Seven Bridges Road. Bike or drive to the bridge. View the falls from the bridge or social trails. For the third waterfall, follow Seven Bridges Road .9 mile to a turnout on the east side of the road. Follow the trails to the river. 

- Falls of Lester River - Lester Park - .6 mile, easy to moderate, Duluth. The lower trailhead is at the junction of 61st Avenue East and East Superior Street.

- French River Falls - .2 mile, easy, Duluth. From Duluth, follow the MN 61 Expressway for 6.5 miles north to Ryan Road, just before reaching the French River bridge. Park along Ryan Road. 

- Trestle Bridge Falls - .7 mile, easy, Duluth. From Duluth, follow the MN 61 Expressway for 6.5 miles north to Ryan Road. Turn right on Ryan Road and follow it .3 mile to Scenic Highway 61. Turn left, cross the French River bridge and park in the lot on the right, at lakeside. 

- Schmidt Creek Falls - .1 mile, easy, Duluth. From Duluth, follow the MN 61 Expressway for 6.5 miles north to Ryan Road. Turn left on Ryan Road and go .5 mile to a right turn at Old North Shore Road. Cross the French River and shortly turn right on CR 290. Follow this gravel road for .4 mile to a dead end at Schmidt Creek.

- First Falls - Knife River - .2 mile, easy, Duluth. From Duluth, follow the MN 61 Expressway for 13 miles northeast to the wayside and historical marker just past the river bridge. A trail at the west end of the parking area leads to the river and waterfall.

- Middle and Lower Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park.

My parents, Sophia, Olivia, and I went to see the 
Middle and Lower Falls at Gooseberry Falls State Park on September 7, 2010.

Olivia and I also did ice climbing on a frozen waterfall at 
Gooseberry State Park on February 26, 2014. 
Sophia watched us as we climbed.

- Upper and Fifth Falls - Gooseberry Falls State Park.

- Split Rock Creek Falls - Split Rock Lighthouse State Park - 3-mile loop with tails, easy with one short, difficult climb to the top of Day Hill. 

- Beaver River Falls - .5 mile, easy to moderate, Beaver Bay. The falls are visible from the MN 61 bridge in Beaver Bay. Park at the Beaver Bay Wayside at the Lax Lake Road and MN 61 intersection, or along the highway shoulder. 

- Upper Beaver Falls - 2 miles out and back, moderate, Beaver Bay. From Beaver Bay, turn on Lax Lake Road (CR 4) and head north about .8 mile to a parking area for the Superior Hiking Trail. Start on the gravel road.

- Glen Avon Falls - .2 mile out and back, easy, Beaver Bay. From Beaver Bay, turn north on Lax Lake Road (CR 4), heading north for 1.6 miles to CR 3. Turn left and follow CR 3 for 1.2 miles to a skinny dirt road on the left. Pull in on this dead-end road and park within sight of the river.

- High Falls and Two Step Falls - Tettegouche State Park - 1.4 miles out and back to High Falls; 1.8 miles out and back to Two Step Falls, difficult, Silver Way.

Sophia, Olivia, and I saw the High Falls on June 4, 2013.

- Cascade Falls - Tettegouche State Park - 1.6 miles out and back, moderate, Silver Bay.

- Illgen Falls - Tettegouche State Park - .2 mile out and back, easy, Silver Bay.

- Falls of Manitou River- George H. Crosby Manitou State Park - 2.4 mile loop, difficult.

- Falls of Caribou River - 1.4 miles out and back, moderate. From Little Marais, follow MN 61 north for 5 miles to Caribou Falls State Wayside at mile marker 70.

- Two Island Falls - .4 mile out and back, easy. From Schroeder, follow MN 61 south for 2 miles. Near mile marker 77. Park on the side of the road or in the gravel parking area on the lake side.

- Cross River Falls - 100 yards out and back, easy, Schroeder. Park on the lot on the west side of MN 61, across from the Cross River Heritage Center in Schroeder. The waterfall is in clear view directly from the Highway 61 bridge at the Cross River Falls Wayside.

- Falls of Temperance River - Temperance River State Park - 1.8 miles out and back, easy to moderate, Schroeder. 

- Upper Falls - Poplar River - .8 mile out and back, easy, Lutsen. From MN 61, turn north onto CR 5 (Ski Hill Road) and head up to the ski area. Look for the gondola parking area. Hike the gravel road to the start of the trail. A Superior Hiking Trail sign leads the way to the South Oberg Trail and then to the falls. 

- Lower Falls - Poplar River - 100 yards or so, easy. Lutsen. From MN 61, turn south onto Resort Road and follow it to the east side of the lodge at Lutsen Resort. A sign for the River Trail leads to the waterfall. 

- Thompson Falls - .3 mile out and back, easy, Lutsen. From MN 61 in Lutsen, follow Caribou Trail (CR 4) north for 17 miles all the way to its end at the junction with FR 153, locally known as "The Grade." Turn right and head east for 2.4 miles to FR 158 (Bally Creek Road) and turn right again. About .2 mile south is a turnout and sign for Thompson Falls on the right. The trail to the falls leaves from the parking area.

- Cascade Falls and The Cascades - Cascade River State Park - .5 mile out and back, easy to moderate (with stairs).

- Hidden Falls - Cascade River - .8 mile out and back, easy. From MN 61, .8 mile northeast of Cascade River State Park, head northeast on CR 7 for 1.9 miles to CR 44. Turn left (north) and go .5 mile to CR 45. Go left and in 2.5 miles look for a parking area at the Cascade River bridge.

- Rosebush Falls - .2 mile out and back, easy. The Fall River bridge is located 2 miles south of Grand Marais on MN 61, near mile marker 107. Park on the highway shoulder. A skinny trail at the north side of the bridge leads through the woods to the falls. 

- Falls of Kadunce River - 1.7 miles out and back, moderate. From Grand Marais, head northeast on MN 61 for 9 miles to the Kadunce River State Wayside. Cross the highway to the Superior Hiking  Trail spur trail, which leads to the falls. 

- Lower Falls - Judge C.R. Magney State Park - 1.4 miles out and back, moderate.

- Upper Falls and Devils Kettle - Judge C.R. Magney State Park - 2.3 miles out and back, moderate to difficult. Grand Marais.

- Portage Falls - .3 mile out and back, moderate, Hovland. From Hovland on MN 61, head north on the Arrowhead Trail (CR 16) for 13 miles to Shoe Lake Road. Turn left and park in the turnout on the left. Hike back across the Arrowhead Trail and take the skinny trail into the woods and to the falls.

- High Falls - Grand Portage State Park - 1 mile out and back, easy. 

- Middle Falls - Grand Portage State Park - 5 miles out and back, difficult. It's about a 3.5 hour hiking time. 

Monday, March 22, 2021

Becoming a Person of Influence - Book Notes

Since January, I have been reading a variety of non-fiction books. One of the more recent ones I finished was Becoming a Person of Influence by John Maxwell and Jim Dornan. 

This is an excellent book that I found well worth my time to read. Some things that I found particularly interesting or inspiring were: 

- Influence doesn't come to us instantaneously. It grows by stages.

- If your life in any way connects with other people, you are an influencer.

- If your desire is to be successful or to make a positive impact on your world, you need to become a person of influence.

- If you want to raise a strong, healthy family, you have to be able to influence your children positively. 

- Leadership is at its lowest level when it is based on position only. It grows and goes to a higher level as you develop relationships with others. 

- When people feel good about you and themselves during the times they're with you, then your level of influence increases significantly.

- Mentoring is pouring your life into other people and helping them reach their potential.

- As you give of yourself, helping them overcome obstacles in their lives and showing them how to grow personally and professionally, you help them achieve a whole new level of living.

- As a multiplying influencer, you help people you're influencing to become positive influencers in the lives of others and pass on not only what they have received from you, but also what they have learned and gleaned on their own.

- "A life isn't significant except for its impact on other lives." (Jackie Robinson)

- "My life shall touch a dozen lives before this day is done, Leave countless marks for good or ill ere sets the evening sun, This is the wish I always wish, the prayer I always pray; Lord, may my life help other lives it touches by the way." (Anonymous)

- You can make a child's problems the center of everything you do, or you can use them as a launching pad for a whole new way of looking at life.

- "The only inheritance that a man will leave that has eternal value is his influence." (Larry Dobbs)


- The need for integrity today is perhaps as great as it has ever been. And it is absolutely essential for anyone who desires to become a person of influence.

- Don't do what you wouldn't feel comfortable reading about in the newspapers the next day.

- You are responsible for your choices.

- William Hersey Davis had a poem about the difference between character and its shadow, reputation. This is the second part of the poem:

Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community;

character is what you have when you go away.

Your reputation is made in a moment;

your character is built in a lifetime.

Your reputation is learned in an hour;

your character does not come to light for a year.

Reputation grows like a mushroom,

character lasts like eternity.

Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor;

character makes you happy or makes you miserable.

Reputation is what men saw about you on your tombstone,

character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God.

- Worry less about what others think, and give your attention to your inner character.

- "No man can for any considerable time wear one face to himself and another to the multitude without finally getting bewildered as to which is the true one." (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

- Integrity is your best friend. It will never betray you or put you in a compromising position. It keeps your priorities right. When you're tempted to take shortcuts, it helps you stay the right course.

- Trust is the single most important factor in personal and professional relationships.

- Trust comes from others only when you exemplify solid character. 

- Do the following:

- Model consistency of character.

- Employ honest communication.

- Value transparency.

- Exemplify humility.

- Demonstrate your support of others.

-Fulfill your promises.

- Embrace an attitude of service.

- Encourage two-way participation with the people you influence. 

- Character is made in the small moments of our lives. (Philipps Brooks)

- A big part of integrity is following through consistently on your responsibilities. 


- Your goal is others' growth and independence. 

- Codependent people never become positive influencers in the lives of others.

- Take time to express your love and appreciation for the people close to you. Tell them how much they mean to you. Write them notes telling how much you care. Don't ever assume that people know how you feel about them. Tell them. 

- When people are made to feel secure and important and appreciated, it will no longer be necessary for them to whittle down others in order to seem bigger in comparison.

- Not until people can completely trust you will you be able to positively influence them and have an impact on their lives.

- Lack of encouragement can hinder a person from living a healthy, productive life. But when a person feels encouraged, she can face the impossible and overcome incredible adversity.

- Self-confidence is the first great requisite to great undertakings. (Samuel Johnson)

- People with high self-esteem get better-paying jobs and are more successful in their careers than people with low self-esteem.

- If you want to help people improve their quality of life, become more productive at work, and develop more positive relationships, then build their self-worth. Make them feel good about themselves. 

- "Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be." (Johann Wolfgang von Goethe)

- Walt Disney said there are three kinds of people in the world:

- Well-Poisoners - discourage others, stomp on their creativity, and tell them what they can't do.

- Lawn-Mowers - people who have good intentions but are self-absorbed, who mow their own lawns but never help others.

- Life-Enhancers - people who reach out to enrich the lives of others, who life them up and inspire them. 


- Your goal is not to get people to think more highly of you. It's to get them to think more highly of themselves.

- Always give credit to a man who's fencing in (putting fencing up around his property) because that means he believes in himself. 

- The best way to show people you faith in them and motivate them is to focus your attention on their strengths. 

- Praise them for what they do well, both privately and publicly. Tell them how much you appreciate their positive qualities and their skills.

- Putting your faith in others involves taking a chance. But the rewards outweigh the risks.

- "To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life." (Robert Louis Stevenson

- When you put your faith in others, you help them reach their potential. And you become an important influencer in their lives. 


- Whenever you don't pay attention to what others have to say, you send them the message that you don't value them. But when you listen to others, you communicate that you respect them. Even more, you show them that you care.

- Anytime employees, spouses, colleagues, children, or friends no longer believe they are being listened to, they seek out people who will give them what they want. Sometimes the consequences can be disastrous: the end of a friendship, lack of authority at work, lissened parental influence, or the breakdown of a marriage. 

- If you consistently listen to others, valuing them and what they have to offer, they are likely to develop a strong loyalty to you, even when your authority with them is unofficial or informal.

- "Let others confide in you. It may not help you, but it surely will help them." (Roger G. Imoff)


- Quote called "A Short Course in Human Relations"

The least important word: I.

The most important word: We.

The two most important words: THank you.

The three most important words: All is forgiven.

The four most important words: What is your opinion?

The five most important words: You did a good job.

The six most important words: I want to understand you better.

- Everybody wants to be regarded and valued by others. 

- "A loving person lives in a loving world. A hostile person lives in a hostile world. Everyone you meet is your mirror." (Ken Keyes, Jr.)


- Leaders are pioneers. They are people who venture into unexplored territory. They guide us to new and often unfamiliar destinations. The unique reason for having to move us forward. Leaders get us going someplace.

- Mentors impact eternity because there is no telling where their influence will stop.

- "The value of life lies not in the length of days, but in the use we make of them; a man may live long yet live very little." (Michel Eyquem de Montaigne) 

- When you enlarge others, you help them make the most of the time they have and raise their quality of life. 

- If you want to do more for others, you have to become more yourself. You can teach what you know, but you can reproduce only what you are.

- To determine if you are still growing, ask yourself what you're still looking forward to. If you can't think of anything or you're looking back instead of ahead, your growth may be at a standstill.

- "One life; a little gleam of time between two eternities; no second chance for us forever more." (Thomas Carlyle)

- Work first with the most promising people around you, the ones most likely to be receptive to growth.

- Select people whose philosophy of life is similar to yours. 

- Choose people with potential you genuinely believe in.

- Select people whose lives you can positively impact.

- "Hell begins on the day when God grands us a clear vision of all that we might have achieved, of all the gifts we wasted, of all that we might have done that we did not do." (Gian Carlo Menotti, composer)

- Help people have great thoughts about themselves, and they will begin tolive like the people they can become.

- "Our souls are not hungry for fame, comfort, wealth, or power. Those rewards create almost as many problem as they solve. Our souls are hungry for meaning, for the sense that we have figured out how to live so that our lives matter, so that the world will at least be a little bit different for our having passed through it." (Harold Kushner)

- "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." (Martin Luther King, Jr.)


- "A leader is one who sees more than others see, who sees farther than others see, and who sees before others do." (Leroy Eims)

- To know where people truly want to go, you need to know what touches their hearts. Passion and compassion are compelling motivators. 

- "Happiness, wealth, and success are by-products of goal-setting; they cannot be the goal themselves." (John Condry)

- "Your best friend is he who brings out the best that is within you." (Henry Ford)


- When you navigate for others, you come alongside them and travel their road for a while, helping them handle some of the obstacles and difficulties i ntheir lives. But when you connect with them, you are asking them to come alongside you and travel your road for your and their mutual benefit.

- Every person on this earth has the potential to make a difference. But you can do it only if you believe in yourself and willing to give yourself away to others. 

- "Life is an exciting business and most exciting when lived for others." (Helen Keller)

- To understand a person's mind, examine what he has already achieved. To understand his heart, look at what he aspires to do. 


- When you become an empowerer, you work with and through people, but you do much more. You enable others to reach the highest levels in their personal and professional development.

- Relationships cause people to want to be with you, but respect causes them to want to be empowered by you. Mutual respect is essential to the empowerment process. If you wish others to respect you, you must show respect for them. Everyone wants to feel that he counts for something and is important to someone. Invariably, people will give their love, respect, and attention to the person who fills that need. Consideration for others generally reflects faith in self and faith in others. 


- Being an influencer means:

- modeling integrity with everyone you come into contact with

- nurturing the people in yuour life to make them feel valued

- showing faith in others so that they believe in themselves

- listening to them so that you can build your relationship with them

- understanding them so that you can help them achieve their dreams

- enlarging them in order to increase their potential

- navigating them through life's difficulties until they can do it themselves

- connecting with them so that you can move them to a higher level

- empowering them to become the person they were created to be

- reproducing other leaders so that your influence contines to grow through others


- Commit yourself to developing strong character.

- Do the little things. Note each time you neglect to fulfill a commitment, leave an assignment uncompleted, don't tell the whole truth.

- Do what you should do before you do what want to do. 

- Develop a nurturing environment in your home, place of business, or church.

- Give special encouragement (e.g., send 2-3 people a short handwritten note each week, give of your time without expecting anything in return.).

- Rebuild bridges. Apologize to a person for your past actions or remakrs. Then find the quality you most admire about the person and tell him or her about it. Look for ways to build and strengthen the relationship.

- Find a strength. Point this out to someone you'd like to encourage.

- Build on past successes. Review a person's past successes before giving them a difficult assingment.

- Start off right. When new people start working for you, make it a point to repeatedly express your faith in them and their abilities before they give you results. They will aim to live up to your positive expectations. 

- Measure your listening skills and then commit yourself to making improvements in listening to others. 

- Pick three people to enlarge. Look at their potential, passion, character issues, greatest strength, next step in development, resource of current need, and next enlarging experience.

- For the three people you are wokring with, identify what they are passionate about and what they dream about. List any difficulties they are likely to face in the near future, and how you can help them navigate through these potential problems. What can you do and when should you help them?

- Connect at a deeper level with others. Schedule time to do a getaway weekend, go to a seminar or conference, or other experience that can be shared. 

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Lost Companions - Reflections on the Death of Pets

After the death of both Eenie and Lucy in the past year, I checked out some books from the library about losing pets and the grief associated with it. Came across Lost Companions - Reflections on the Death of Pets by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson. 

For the most part, this book focused on the loss of pets and the grieving process. There also was a section that offered ideas for paying tribute to pets who have died from a variety of pet owners. 

What was unusual about this book - and felt out of place - were the chapters about animals that are used for human consumption and why people who eat meat should become vegans. It is a worthwhile topic to explore, yet didn't fit with the purpose or theme of this book. 

Despite the fact that there is a dual focus of this book which isn't addressed in the title, there were many worthwhile things that stood out for me follow:

- It is a disorienting and odd feeling to have loved a dog or cat or another animal for so long, and suddenly realize that the end is approaching. This is such a complex feeling that we endure: the knowledge that a period in our life has come to an end; that the animal we have so loved and who has been such an important part of our everyday life, is about to leave us; that soon all we will have left are memories; that we are helpless to prevent what always strikes us as a death too soon. It is different than the impending death of a human companion - we can talk to them, and reminisce, and discuss what is happening. But when a dog feels the end approaching...they turn their eyes to us in a different kind of way. We cannot entirely understand what they are asking, but it breaks our hearts anyway.

Shadow and Lucy. Both have died.

- We know death is coming, and no matter how much we teel ourselves to the inevitable, it comes as a shock.

- The dog or the cat actually looks to the human in a unique way at the moment of death, as if recognizing that this is the final good-bye and aware of the depth of the occasion. 

- Any nonvegetarian is put immediately outside their comfort zone when looking into the eye of a pig or a cow. It is too much like looking into the eye of your neighbor. 

- Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. (Roger Caras)

Montague with the girls probably about a decade or more ago.

- Many people find it unbearable to be present at the final moment with their dog, and they leave the room. What the veterinarian sees then is that the dog frantically looks from face to face of the people present, searching for his own family, and how distressed the dog is at not finding them. We owe our dogs the comfort of seeing us in their last moments, no matter how unhappy it makes us feel.

- It is important to not only be present for the euthanasia at a vet, but to actually hold your animal in your arms as the needle goes in, and look at him or her. Being present is definitely the preferred way to be at this moment. 

- The only reason to take a dog or cat into the vet for euthanasia is when they (not us) are unbearably suffering with absolutely no prospect of cure.

- If you have a dog, you will most likely outlive it; to get a dog is to open yourself to profound joy and, prospectively, to equally profound sadness. (Marjorie Garber)

- Dogs live longer when they are neutered.

- Because dogs and cats stand to us in particular, in a child-adult relationship, losing them is very much like losing a child. 

Sophia and Olivia taking a break on a walk with Montague and Gretel.

Both dogs died many years ago.

- In some sense, the sudden death of a dog or cat seems to go against the natural order. Or rather, that is how it feels to us emotionally. 

- Consider how much time we spend with these animals: the entire time we are at home, we are in their presence. We go for solitary walks with our dogs, sometimes for hours. We may not even realize it, but we confide in them. They never criticize us; they never look at us in disbelief. No human companion is as understanding, as forgiving, as eager to be in your presence. 

- Farm animals all have personalities, and a life worth living, with friends, family, young, and their mates. They are, just like us, invested in living as long as they can, without harm coming to them or their loved ones. 

A pig at a CSA. He and his friends were enjoying playing in the mud.

- Eating (a farm animal's) flesh will hasten our death, and the death of our planet. So, if something is good for you, good for animals, and good for our planet, it should not be difficult to make the decision to move in the direction of not eating animals. 

- Eggs and milk in a supermarket look harmless, but their history is dark and involves violence on a  scale that is almost impossible to imagine. 

- Just as it is unimaginable for us to think of our dogs and cats and parrots as food to be eaten by other humans, so must we make the cognitive and imaginative leap to all animals who are sentient, that is, capable of suffering.

- Something like 3 billion animals (if we include fish) around the world are killed for food every single day. 25 million farm animals are slaughtered every day in the United States. Every year in America, more than 9 billion chickens are killed. 

- Becoming vegan means living in consonance with your beliefs. It can be a great relief. 

- PETA calculates that 198 animals are saved each year for every person who goes vegan. 

- What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us. (Helen Keller) 

Sophia with Eenie (who died) and Danny.

- Before you get a dog, you can't quite imagine what living with one might be like; afterward, you can't imagine living any other way. (Caroline Knapp)

- A dog is totally fixated on you: if you are writing, he is lying at your feet, just waiting for any change of expression to indicate what comes next, for him, and for you. You are his world.

- Adopt a dog, don't buy. 

- In the approximately 14,000 shelters in the United States, about 8 million dogs and cats are "surrendered." Of these, some 2-4 million dogs and cats (22% of dogs and 45% of cats) are euthanized every year from shelters. 

The girls with Casey who was adopted from a shelter in Minnesota.

- A dog has a 50% chance of leaving a shelter alive. In some shelters (pounds, rescue centers, SPCAs) the figure is as terrible as 1 in 10.

- Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal. (from an Irish headstone)

- Rescue a dog on death row. 

- Ways to memorialize your pets:

- create tiles in your kitchen with photos of deceased animal friends

- plant a tree

- put cremation remains in urns and put them on a shelf to see

- bury some askes by a tree

- save the ashes from animal companions throughout your life and have them buried with you when your time is up

- contact an animal communicator after your pet dies

- make a book of his or her life

- over where a pet has been buried, plant bulbs or flowers or a shrub.

- make a hidden garden for a pet. Put a rock with the pet's name on it in the garden

- put the ashes near a statue of St. Francis watching over it. Put a montage of photos next to it

- make a donation in the name of the pet

- a ceremony to give your grief somewhere to reside

- doing a good and lasting deed in honor of your loved animals. 

- A ritual need to replace, and in fact can contribute to, a long-lasting commitment to making the world better for animals. 

- In the end, this is what happens with almost all companion animals: their time to leave us comes long before we are ready to let them go. 

Gretel with the girls in the start of their ice fort.

Gretel died unexpectedly when she was four years old, most likely from a heart issue.

- When a pet dies, some of you goes with him. 

- When you grieve, no matter how deeply, no matter for how long, no matter for whom (dog, cat, bird, horse, sheep, chicken, fish) you are the only expert of your grief, the only person who is entitled to decide when it is over.

- Celebrate your time with your animals, and when the time comes to say good-bye, do it in your own way for as long as you want, and celebrate their lives and the gifts they have bestowed on you.