We’re All Animals

A few days ago I watched a video of animal clips sent to me by a friend. The animals were interacting with other animals and people with such tenderness, it made me wish I were an animal. Well, I am a human animal, so I guess what I wish is that we human animals were the nice, accepting, tolerant, tender type of animal. Oh yeah, I wish we were also the reasonable type of animal (darn politics). I think Aristotle may have been premature in declaring human beings “rational beings,” living by “reasoning.” Or perhaps we have evolved leaving reason behind, like we did with tails. That’s sad (loss of reason, not loss of tails).

In the video a cat nuzzled a horse; a dog and lion gave each other a low five; a dog insisted on having his paw in a woman’s hand; another dog rocked a baby, and yet another dog gently nuzzled and watched over a baby. The video had a dog bias; not that dogs aren’t great, but I wish cats had equal screen time. Even though dogs were the stars of the video, a bird was featured in a clip of an owl allowing a child to hug and caress it.

Absent in the video was any display of fear. The animals weren’t afraid of people or other animals (even animals that were traditionally adversaries). Lack of fear set them free allowing them to interact. I do think that the parents of the little girl should have been afraid to let her get up close with the owl. It could have clawed her eyes out! But it didn’t. It was a nice cuddly owl.

Fear has no place in retirement. Fear keeps us retirees from having fun. Fear turns “I want to go on a road trip to the Grand Canyon,” into “If I go on a road trip to the Grand Canyon I’ll probably breakdown while driving there, and then fall in once I get there.” Fear turns, “I want to pet that lion,” into “I want to live, so I’m not going to pet that lion.” Fear turns “I want to hug that owl” into “I still have my eyes, because I didn’t hug that owl.” I guess fear manifesting as caution is okay. Fear can, however, stifle creativity. In the kitchen, cooking creativity is stifled by thoughts like “if I mix this with that, it will taste horrible.” Thoughts like that would have kept carrot out of cake, tequila out of light beer with lime and zucchini out of brownies (don’t let fear keep you from throwing some shredded zucchini in your brownie batter – it’s good). Fear can also keep us from interacting with other human animals that look different, or sound different, or behave differently than we do. We miss out on a lot of good times and possible friends because of fear.

As I watch a friend near death, I see how letting go of fear allows her to enjoy every moment of her life and joyfully anticipate what comes after her mortal life. As I watch a video of a dog hanging out with a lion, I think we have a lot to learn from animals.

Reason and fear (caution) lead me to suggest that you don’t hug this owl. Photo (of an owl in his backyard) courtesy of Mickey Porter.

“Hello Walls”

That Willie Nelson; he’s quite the soothsayer. When Willie wrote that song, around sixty years ago, I wonder if he imagined it would be the theme song of 2020. I think that we’ve all become intimately familiar with our walls over the past five months. Writing “five months” I think, that can’t be right; surely it’s been fifty-five months, at least. Today I read a blurb about a man whose closest friends, currently, are household appliances. The so-called “COVID 15” is testimony to the close friendship many of us are having with our refrigerators. I LOVE my refrigerator so much more than I love my walls. I wish I could say that it isn’t just for the material things my refrigerator has to offer – but it is.

My refrigerator contains Greek yogurt: the new sour cream. My refrigerator contains grapefruit juice which tastes pretty good with its fellow refrigerator inhabitant, tonic water. Just a few steps to another good friend of mine, the liquor cabinet, and I can get a little tequila to add to that grapefruit juice and tonic water that my good friend the refrigerator was taking care of for me. My walls are tan… They hold me in (like they’re supposed to). It’s difficult to thank my walls for this. I have a little refrigerator in my garage (thank you friend Linda).

My little garage refrigerator contains water, soda and light beer with lime juice. I like my little refrigerator too. My little refrigerator gives me light beer with lime juice to which I add Margarita mix from the big refrigerator in my house, and a splash of tequila from my liquor cabinet. I call it a beerita. Drinking a beerita softens my heart and then I’m not so hard on my (tan) walls. I try (not always successfully, because I don’t want my refrigerators to feel neglected) to only have a drink containing alcohol on Friday through Sunday, and to only have one. I’m much nicer to my walls on Friday through Sunday. I even talk to them: “Hello walls.”

Sometimes I put on a mask and leave my house (goodbye walls). I drive to the grocery store and buy light beer with lime and other things to put in my beloved refrigerators. Then I drive home, take off my mask (it scares my cat, Cinnamon), and fill the refrigerators. Things are really hoppin’ in my life right now – well at least Cinnamon is when she sees me in my mask.

Hello walls; where’s the refrigerator?

Sometimes Cinnamon and I escape our four walls and birdwatch in the front yard.
She’s happy, but I miss the refrigerator.


I have noticed an unprecedented use of the adjective “unprecedented” in recent weeks. I’m sure I’m not alone. The term is particularly prevalent during the nightly news: “Breaking news; today there was an unprecedented…” I am afloat in the unprecedented virtual waters of lack of precedent. On occasion, I have been submerged (practically drowning) in a lack of precedent.

The term “unprecedented” often has negative connotations. These bad unprecedented times and happenings have never happened before, because things used to be better. Now they’re unprecedented. Every once in a while, unprecedented sneaks over to the good side, like when we have unprecedented good weather. Since our weather forecasts most recently are filled with predictions of unprecedented bad weather, I think that the “Good Weather” ship has been blown out of the water by an unprecedented intense squall.

Here in Albuquerque, we have been experiencing an unprecedented insurgence of wildlife. My next-door neighbor was alerted, by her next-door neighbor (out of concern for my neighbor’s sausage-shaped shih tzu), that a mountain lion had been spotted in a tree just a few blocks away. My friend Eileen has a family of foxes living in her backyard and an infestation of scorpions in the rocks of her neighbor’s front yard. Large herds of bunnies now hop from yard to yard on my street (Get along, little bunnies!). My son’s backyard camera alerted him to intruders, and when he looked at the video feed, he saw a raccoon, followed by five smaller raccoons, setting up camp in his yard. This type of wildlife in the Albuquerque city limits is unprecedented. My son confided in me, that he thinks the wildlife know something we don’t and they’re staking out the best real estate for when we’re out of the way. He is my father’s grandson. My father always contended that if you always expect the worst, when something good happens, you are pleasantly surprised. So there is a family precedent for my son’s lack of optimism.

The wildlife from those mountains are heading to town. They want to take advantage of unprecedented low mortgage rates.

Retirement, coupled with coronavirus, has resulted in a personally-unprecedented number of days spent at home, resulting in an unprecedented decrease in my visits to the gas station. My carbon footprint is shrinking at an unprecedented rate. Yea, a positive lack of precedent, but the negatives are still ahead.

I’ve noticed an unprecedented preachiness in my recent blog posts. That’s bad. I can’t help myself (so, so much precedent for that one). So, here I go again. Let’s all be nice to each other (and to the many of you who always are – thank you, you’re my heroes). Hallelujah and AMEN.

What kind of wildlife is that?

Life’s Messy

In retirement, you have the time to see the messes you missed while rushing from task to task while working. While socially-isolated AND retired there is nowhere to hide from the messes that you see. Historically, I identified with Bissell’s advertising slogan: “Life’s messy; clean it up.” I like things short and to the point: Life’s messy! Clean it up!!

A few weeks ago, I was doing my morning journaling (it’s supposed to be “stream-of-consciousness”) and on the topic of pandemic I wrote: alone – burden – long-lasting – odd – sad – selfishness – sick – strange (my consciousness streams alphabetically). Messy is missing. This is good. Even people who aren’t retired, but are working from home, are confronted with the messes in their front yards, and they’re cleaning them up. Thank you! Our local water authority recently alerted residents to be mindful of their water use. They felt that people were cleaning more while spending more time at home and therefore water usage was up (uh oh, the dark cloud inside the silver lining).

I just learned that a dear friend who has been battling pancreatic cancer, has decided to stop fighting. Life’s messy. Sadly, mess-equality is missing here. My friend worked so diligently to clean up the cancer mess. She IS a fighter. She’s fought so much harder than I would have. I want there to be a cancer vacuum, that just cleans that cancer mess right up. But there’s not. My mess-response mechanism is very limited. It tends to short-out when confronted with messes not related to my immediate environment.

I’m at a loss when facing loss. I want life to be neat and clean; fair and fare; just and right; long and happy. MC worked as a nurse up until her cancer diagnosis, and had planned to return to work as soon as she beat the cancer. Today, I feel like the absence of “fair” that accompanies a cancer diagnosis is ALL MESSED UP. I’m even kind-of angry with Alex Trebek. I think MC has every right, and it would only be right, for her to be beating pancreatic cancer, too! I don’t want Alex to be more ill; I just want MC to be more well.

I wonder, world-wide, how many people will die today? How many will die today from accidents, illness, and violence. So many families will be in pain and I won’t have a clue as to their suffering. While working, I thought there should be a “time bank.” Employees who had extra time on their hands would deposit time in the way of help to employees who had too much to get done on their own. Later employees who had deposited time could withdraw “time” help when needed. I made this suggestion to the folks at the top, and was told that it would never work. Today, I wish that there was a “compassion and support bank.” We could deposit help for others when times are good and withdraw help when life is messy.

Life’s messy. Please, help those in need. We’re still experiencing a pandemic. Some are fighting cancer and experiencing a pandemic. Some are destitute and experiencing a pandemic. Today, words aren’t working; “clean it up” isn’t cutting it. I’ve got to DO more.

None of us is getting out of here alive. Let’s do all we can to ensure that our friends and family get out of here WELL LOVED!