23 March 2017

Red Waiting At The Gulley Bridge, Not The Rainbow Bridge

By: Jon Katz

Waiting at The Bridge

I love walking, I walk every day, even in cold weather. I admit I don't walk as quickly as I did, or as easily. Walking on rough or enough ground is reason for me to slow down and be careful. I just don't feel as certain as I once did, and I am careful not to fall, that would shut down my walking.

Red and I are psychically attached to one another, he doesn't need cuddling from me or much attention, he just needs to be with me, and that is fine, that is what I need also. Since my open heart surgery, I have noticed Red keeping a much closer eye on me, as in today when I came to cross the Gulley Memorial Bridge and Red had stopped and turned to wait for me.

He also senses when I need to stop and slow down, I have a heart condition called angina, once in awhile it is painful when I push too hard.

Red often does that this days, wait for me that is, my trek into the woods today involved walking on a lot of snow and ice, and I have to move slowly and sometimes, carefully, especially when walking over icy rocks or slopes. Red is always patient for me, and I love this image of him waiting over the other side of the bridge for me.

Many of the people reading this love the idea of Rainbow Bride, I respect their feelings but I do not want Red waiting for me on the other end of that bridge so we can hang out for all eternity. When he goes, I hope to finds another human to bring him to the work he loves, herding sheep and touching people's spirits.

I would hate to think of him romping with me for all eternity, we both have better things to do, at least I hope we do.

Still, I didn't miss the symbolism of Red at the bridge, we are both moving through life together, neither one of us has Fate's energy or drive. Red is grounding, he is always there with me, waiting for me, not always easy for a border collie to do. He is my spirit dog.

Posted in General

Meeting Tim At The Mansion

By: Jon Katz

Meeting Tim, An Author

Tim is new to the Mansion, I gave him a book and he is giving me  his book, a memoir, he will get it for me tomorrow. He says he was a writer for some years and wants to get back to it, he says he likes my writing style, I write with a sense of humor he says, and he wonders if I might sit down with him and teach him how to relax when he writes and use more humor.

I said I'd give it a try, but I can't do it often or regularly, I just don't have time. Tim has fit comfortably into the life of the Mansion, he often brings his laptop to the activity room. You can write Tim c/o The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Posted in General

Art Supplies Pouring In For The Art Show

By: Jon Katz

Art Supplies

Mansion Activities director Julie Smith spends a lot of her day unpacking the boxes of art supplies that are coming in in advance of the first Mansion Art Show And Workshop, which is running through the entire month of April. On April 25, the art of the residents will be displayed in the big common room, and will be judged by me, Maria and Scott Carrino.

There will be a lot of winners.

All kinds of supplies have been coming in – thank you again, it can't be said too often – paper art boards, brushes, sketch pads, colored pencils, paint kits, design books and tracing pads.

Julie says she has just about everything she needs except for some mat board mats to frame photographs and paintings (smaller ones), she says she is blessed to collect your letters and packages, she has never seen anything like your generosity. The art show is ready to go, thanks to you.

I came by in the morning to drop something off, and there was a yoga class in the room, then a round of Deluxe Scrabble. Starting in April, a number of artists will come to the Mansion (Maria too) to talk about their work and help the residents make their art.

There is always something going on in the activity room. (Julie says thanks for the names for the parakeets, they will choose one soon. Someone suggested Bonnie and Clyde. It is a haven, a place to make contact with others and be safe and stimulated.

I have a new list of residents, be advised that it changes constantly, this is not a place of constancy:  Every day is a whole new experience, two people I visited were gone today, three more had arrived.

The first names of the residents who wish to receive your cards and letters are Bruce W., Allan H., Sylvie B., Jean G., John Z., John R., Alanna M., Peggie O., Ellen B., Joan H., Brenda S., Connie M., Alice G., Madeline G., Mary B., Barbara N., William H., Brother Peter., Diane D., Helen L., Jean A., Tim R., Gerry B., Dennis R., Anita H., Richard H.

Posted in General

The Tao Of Donkeys: Capturing Fanny And Lulu

By: Jon Katz

Fanny And Lulu

In Chinese philosophy, the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order. The donkeys are the most difficult animals to photograph. They are inherently cautious and modest, they don't preen or seek to please the way dogs and some cats do, they are not wild animals, they are not pets. They are a nation of their own.

They can be standoffish, intuitive and affectionate, they are independent and wise. sometimes they can be all of those things in the same few minutes. Everything must be their idea, they do not exist to please and will serve reluctantly and sporadically, given no other choice.

Simon was the only donkey I ever had who loved to be photographed and soaked up attention, Lulu and Fanny are very cool and thoughtful, they love attention when a carrot is attached to it. Otherwise, they don't see the point unless one of us kneels to the ground or pulls up a chair and they sidle up next to us and lean it. That is how they show love.

There is a sadness and perception in their eyes that is quite striking, today, and rarely, I think I captured a piece of it, I stood for a long time with my monochrome camera watching them move back and forth, study me, circle me, wondering what I was up to. They never trust the camera the way dogs and sheep eventually do. I love donkeys, they are the most spiritual of all the animals I have known, the most intuitive, they are watchers and waiters, hardy and always eager to take care of themselves.

Today, I saw them standing head to head, as they sometimes do, they are always near one another, these two are sisters and have lived today almost all of their lives.

They are amazing creatures, somewhat rare in America, and among the most abused, exploited,  and abandoned of animals. Because of this, they do what they want, not what you want, and if they don't feel comfortable with it, there is no force in the world that can force them to do it. Their Tao is harmony, I think, they live in peace with one another and with the other animals, and they are loving and loyal to us in their own way and at their own pace.

Posted in General

What Herman Took With Him When He Left This World

By: Jon Katz

What Herman Took With Him: Photo By Heidi Mulready

Several days before he left the Mansion to go to the hospital, I brought Herman a stuffed lamb, I don't believe the sender told me who she was, it came to the farmhouse. If she did tell me her name, I lost it or forgot and I apologize.  I get so many messages about the mansion.

She has not come forward since Herman died, and I would love to thank her, this meant to much to him. Please contact me if you wish.

Herman loved the lamb, he took it with him to the hospital. He kept it by his bedside. This photograph, taken by Mandi Mulready, who  went to see Herman in the hospital, was the last photograph taken of him, it was shortly before he died.

Herman's daughter Marlene came to the Mansion Thursday to collect his personal belongings, and she said the lamb was with Herman when he died, and with him when he was cremated. They left this world together.

Marlene is coming to our Bedlam Farm Open House (June 10-11) to see the farm. We will be looking for her. Thanks so much for giving him this comfort and love in his last hours.

I was eager to post this last picture of Herman so you could see what you have done once more. Who would have thought a small stuffed animal would mean to much to a person at the edge of love. Herman was much loved, in his brief time at the Mansion, several staffers told me he changed their lives.

(Here is the most recent list of Mansion residents who wish to receive your messages; the address is The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

The residents, by their first names, are: Bruce W, Allan H., Sylvie B., Jean G., John Z., Alanna M., Peggie O., Ellen B., Joan H., Brenda S., Connie m., Alice G., Madeline G., Marcus B., Barbara N., William H., Brother Peter, Diane D., Helen L., Jean A., Tim R., Gerry B., Dennis R., Anita H., Richard H.

Please remember that the list of residents changes constantly for various reasons, and your personalized messages might not get to the person you wrote to. General messages are distributed evenly to the residents as well, they love to receive them.)

Posted in General