Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Threnody for a horse

NJ.com posted the following article today by Jerry Izenberg. I include here in full as newspapers regularly purge their content and if you grew to care about this horse as I did, it's one you won't want to miss.

Izenberg: Derby winner won the heart of America

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Star-Ledger Staff

MIAMI -- His name was Barbaro and he touched America, generating a tidal wave of hope and a prayer that far transcended its racetracks, its back-stretch ramblers and its tack rooms from Maine to California. He was a fallen hero, fighting for his life and his battle caught the nation's collective heartbeat and merged it with the cadence of his own.

Barbaro died yesterday at the New Bolton Center's George D. Widener Veterinary Hospital in Kennett Square, Pa., ending an eight-month struggle that dominated the hearts and minds of this country in a way that no other horse ever had...not Secretariat...not Seabiscuit...not Citation. They were providers of magnificent headlines. But Barbaro was the provider of incredible courage.

Technically, the medical reason was incurable laminitis, although Lord knows, the best in the business tried like hell to give him a fighting chance. The initial injuries were a broken cannon bone above the ankle, a broken sesamoid bone behind the ankle, a broken long pastern bone below the ankle. The pastern bone alone had shattered into 20 pieces.

And starting with that day when the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner broke down in the Preakness before a nation-wide television audience, the prayers, the hopes and the story-book ending that never happened became an American story.

Within five months, Michael Matz, his trainer, received a mountain of 43,000 e-mails. A wounded vet from Iraq sent him an American flag. A doctor named Margaret Goodman, once the medical chairman of the Nevada boxing commission found out what his favorite foods were and sent them along to the New Bolton Center. Elementary school kids wrote letters. Two-dollar bettors, who would step over a prostrate heart attack victim so as not to get shut out at the betting windows, greeted each other in simulcast rooms with "waddaya hear?" and for once they weren't asking "whodaya like?"

Battle-hardened racetrackers from touts to grooms will never forget it. Neither will those who never saw a horse race but who rooted for Barbaro to live.

For as long as Edgar Prado sits in the saddle, he will remember the feel of it ... the awful dread it generated ... and the way the rhythm of what rider and horse always share as one on every racetrack on the planet suddenly sent the wrong message, generating a threnody that hung over Pimlico Race Course like a nightmare in progress.

Prado felt the uneven bounce in the stride of the super horse beneath him. He saw the horse twist its head from side to side. He was now running at angle. Prado was dead certain that he had to stop the horse from doing what it was bred to do ... what his equine genes screamed out to do ... what the Derby, just two weeks earlier, mandated him to do.

Without Prado, this profile in courage would have ended that very day.

Look at a horse -- any horse -- see how ridiculously skinny the legs are and how wide the girth is. Ask yourself how in the world those pipe stem legs can support the body and the beating heart of a creature born to run regardless of balance or pain.

The jockey was there when the horse needed someone to intercede between logic and what he was bred to do.

That he lived as long as he did was a tribute to Prado's instincts and skill, a tribute to the medical staff in New Bolton, where he was taken that day of the Preakness, to the care and the financial generosity of the people who owned him.

Barbaro was supposed to be a super horse in waiting ... the heir to what Secretariat and Seattle Slew and Affirmed had left in their historic wakes ... winner of the Derby in ferocious style by more lengths (six and one half) than any other Derby winner since Assault (1946).

Prado won't forget. Neither will Matz, who raced toward the track the second he saw his colt racing almost obliquely. Barbaro began to shake his head and run crookedly toward a goal only he could envision.

In that instant, Prado's every thought and every muscle were directed toward keeping this horse erect and safe.

He stopped him and whispered to him and waiting hands reached out for the horse to stabilize him. On the other side of the track, horses jockeyed for position and the crowd thundered as a long shot named Bernardini took and held the lead.

Now the colt was still shaking, still wanting to run, trying to wobble forward because genetics demand it is what a thoroughbred race horse does. It is what horses do. And I will never, never forget the awesome wall that only the silence of 85,000 throats can generate.

Nor will I forget the same silence in the stable area as the big, white horse ambulance pulled away from Barn 40 with a police escort and swept the through the gate and headed toward the highway.

For the civilians who saw it, there was the silence the unknown triggered.

For the horsemen, there was the fear of what they knew.

And so the marriage between Barbaro's pain and America's hope began. By mid-July the people at New Bolton's greatest fear set in. Laminitis struck and 80 percent of his left hind hoof was removed. It was heartbreaking. Originally, they had pieced the breaks together with 23 screws in his leg and he had, incredibly, responded well.

But the ghosts of similar situations past and the unforgiving risks of equine anatomy were never very far away from this courageous horse. He was fighting a losing battle. America responded to each slice of encouraging news but the vets knew and so did the horsemen.

There are those who will say that Barbaro was just a horse, but the truth is that to so many he was also a symbol of hope ... of courage ... and the selflessness of the man who trained him and rode him and the people who stood beside him in the winner's circle on Derby Day.

But maybe the shared joy of his survival that later turned to shared suffering when he couldn't make it is not really that hard to understand. He was an athlete with an athlete's heart. His courage was self-explanatory in an age when America grows weary of big-money athletes who have exhausted their intelligence with their whining.

Any way you look at it, an American hero died yesterday.

Jerry Izenberg appears regularly in The Star-Ledger

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fun on the run

Well my chickadees, I'm off to Portland for a few days. My daughter and I need to confer about her upcoming summer wedding. Woo-hoo! I'm on the run and am feeling a bit like Tic. This is all just too much fun! Back Sunday. Don't burn down the house.

Tic - Fun on the Run

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Lucky duck, I guess

This is not a story that makes me feel fuzzy warm and glad to be human but it touched me deeply and wanted to share it here.

From the BBC News

Duck survives two days in fridge

A duck in the US state of Florida has survived gunshot wounds and a two-day stint in a refrigerator.

A hunter shot the duck, wounding it in the wing and leg. Believing the bird was dead, he left it in his fridge at his home in Tallahassee.

The hunter's wife got a fright when she opened the fridge and the duck lifted its head, a local veterinarian said.

Staff at the Goose Creek Animal Sanctuary who are treating the bird said it has a 75% chance of survival.

The plucky duck was taken first to a local animal hospital, and then to an animal sanctuary for more specialized treatment.

A veterinarian at the sanctuary said he thinks the duck will live, but will probably never be well enough to be released into the wild.

The veterinarian, David Hale, said the duck's low metabolism rate helped it survive its time in the refrigerator, the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported.

"This is an extremely tough duck with a lot of spirit to live," he said. "This shows how tough and adaptable wildlife are."

Horse kisses

Legal protection for America's wild horses is one step closer to being a legal reality. Last Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit declared the slaughter of horses for food illegal in Texas. Considering all the evil spawned in Bushland, this is particularly encouraging.

Previously the bill was passed, only to be undone behind our backs by crooked politicians the second we turned away, but we're onto their dirty tricks and it looks like this appeal just might stick. But there's more work to do. Every voice counts. Please consider speaking up for America's mustangs. Yes, AGAIN. That's the way it works, babee. Victory goes to the last pit bull still swingin' from the Senator's nuts. It just takes a minute. I thank you and the horses thank you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Rat park

A pro-lifer after my own heart

Kami Mata Rat Temple

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Come the crows, cautiously

The birds dine in shifts at the Bird Park, starting with the magpies who arrive about 7:10 am but the crows haven't been regulars for a while. They are here this morning however. They like the tortillas, dipped in water. Perhaps it's the ripping and tearing, I don't know. They're not interested in the veggie suet I make. Too bad. It's nourishing. Anyway, to my delight Minerva, my favorite crow, showed up the other day. I haven't seen her for months and thought she was dead. She's my favorite simply because I can distinguish her from the others. She's got a white patch on her breast, so we have history. She didn't eat the Marvel Meal either but seemed to side against the magpie horning in, or should I say, beaking in on the starlings who are the second shift and crazy about the stuff.

Minerva and the magpie

Friday, January 19, 2007

Madame Twee gets her 'do done

Thyth kept a close eye on Madame Twee when she got her hair done the other day. It was the first step of a hair transplant procedure. Thyth was pretty concerned at first but the session ended well.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Reality gap and check

Snake eating its own tail.

Jane Smiley wrote an excellent article for the Huffington Post today entitled Not Only the Worst President, but the Worst Possible President". It's not new to call Bu$h mad or the worst President ever but her article is insightful and refreshing none the less and I recommend reading it.

Although I have been telling myself for the last couple of hours to back away from the computer, I couldn't resist commenting on several threads I read this morning or reposting some of those comments here. After this, I am going to get up and get out...I swear!

#1: The word Karma has a simple definition: CAUSE AND EFFECT. Undoubtedly Bu$h is a madman but he is also a war criminal and should be tried for his crimes, along with Cheney, who is mad but competent. Unfortunately, because we have let them run unchecked for so long, we have earned a fair share of the karma (reaction) their actions have generated: hatred, mayhem, poverty, violence, retaliation, breakdown, failure. It is a toss up whether man or nature calls us to account first but, even at pennies on the dollar, payback could be pretty uncomfortable.

But not only is Bu$h a madman conjuring war and catastrophic, global climate change, he has dragged us into a dizzying level of debt. In fact, this asshole has redefined monetary vertigo and disintegration. It is by the way not coincidence that the Chinese have a trillion plus foreign exchange reserve, up 30.22 percent from last year. The Bu$h boys are selling America piece by piece right out from under our feet.

#2: Bu$h's reality check has bounced. Known cost of his War o' Terror to date: $1.2 Trillion and climbing and that's only counting the money. The hidden and not so hidden costs are incalculable but here's a little visual to illustrate just how much ONE TRILLION DOLLARS actually is compared to the money in your pocket or bank account, or that inheritance you're waiting for that will probably be consumed by unprecedented health care costs.

And that's just money. The human, animal and global costs are incalculable.

Okay, so much for the doom and gloom. Life is still good. Earth will probably survive us. It's another blue sky day here in Nevada. Here in the Bird Park, quail are having another dust bath party in the back yard and the pigeons have been cold tubbing on and off all afternoon.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Ash Canyon Library at Comma Coffee

Liz, Teresa, Bob, Krista, Susan and I got the poetry and three book shelves over to Comma Coffee yesterday and have four or five more boxes to take over to the Public Library later this week. What they don't want we'll add to the collection at June's. It will be great once the books are out and available. People will be able to go in, get a cup of coffee or a glass of wine and read poetry. That's what this world needs, MORE POETRY!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Hellholes and blackouts

I spent most of the morning at the Carson City hospital after suddenly becoming delirious at the gym. Lee tells me that on the way I kept repeating, "It's like you just picked me up at the airport, like I've been gone for a very long time" and "Bhaktivedanta would say death has left his calling card".

As you might imagine, it freaked him out. At one point, he asked me if I realized I had been saying that over and over but I had no memory of it at all, although I do vaguely recall him asking that question and me feeling pulled up short and kind of embarrassed. And I have a free floating memory of the Bhaktivedanta quote, but can not connect it to any particular time or place, other than when I said it I was riding in a car. Turns out I was merely hypoglycemic. It was pretty strange, time lost in the loop.

I'm bad. I started Weight Watchers the other day and didn't eat enough on Saturday. Lee tells me that at the hospital I had an EKG, brain scan, blood work etc., I remember none of it. I came to sitting in an exam room about the time a couple of friends show up with a bag of food and the hospital was rolling in a $2000 morgue salad and told me to eat; mmmmm... flesh of murdered chicken draped over lettuce, vegetables stewed in fat rung from an indeterminate mix of unidentified dead bodies, an apple, an orange, and some crackers. I munched an apple. I'm vegetarian but not vegan so we stopped at Subway on the way home where I had a 6" tuna sandwich. I know there are starving children everywhere so I should be grateful for the abundance that rains upon me, which I am of course, but I feel bad about eating fish. Nothing with a face. Anyway, I don't blame Weight Watchers for the episode. I wasn't keeping proper track of my points. I wasn't hungry so I didn't realize I wasn't eating enough. Without getting too mired in explanations, the genius of Weight Watchers is its point system, much easier to track your intake than counting calories or making certain foods off limits. Your point allotment decreases with your weight, and I'm not wildly overweight to begin with, so I started without much of a point margin. I'm going to be good from now on and eat all_my_points_everyday! I like altered states but not creepy blackouts.

Rant n roll. It's bitterly cold out right now. The temperatures are hovering around zero. Our fat neighbors over the back fence are tucked snugly in their little hobbit hole. The music is cranked up and they are enjoying a groove while outside their poor little dog Star is standing forlornly on the concrete slab of her cage with her head down, shivering. I'm infuriated. It is so fucking speciesist! Inside, in the warm, the humans are wallowing in cool "feelings" stimulated by the "soulful" tunes they're playing on their big sound system while their dog, who they claim they "love", stands in the back, half frozen in a cage. Here's the deal. Whether emotions or subzero temperatures, humans are not the only ones who feel things, but whenever convenience demands, we can oh so easily turn our backs on the suffering of others with whom we share the planet. I'm with Ghandi and Schopenhauer on this one...

The greatness of a nation and its morals can be judged by the way its animals are treated. ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Maybe I'll call them about Star again. I can't rescue every suffering critter on the planet, but maybe I can help improve the plight of one, little black dog.

Compassion is the basis of morality. ~ Schopenhauer


here are a couple of video links Mr. Lee sent just me. I really enjoyed them and pass them along to you. You might enjoy them as well, especially if you like weird and funny combined. It's the first 2 episodes of a new, original web series at AtomFilms called...

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Friday night poetry

I went to Ash Canyon last night. As I put myself on the line with Comma Coffee about moving the ACP library there on Monday, Susan convinced me it would be a good idea to attend poetry night. I haven't been going much after the fracas over the journal. Anyway, it was nice seeing old friends and being around other lovers of the written/spoken word. Also, as I wanted to bring a poem, I rescued a page from one of my notebooks and printed it out. It was a piece I stumbled on the other day while doing something else, one of those scribbles you dash off only to promptly forget about it. Once it got on a nice, clean page however it looked respectable enough to read. I love Ash Canyon. There are damn few places or people who care about things like that.

Also, last night turned into a celebration of sorts as Ellen Hopkins, one of the old time regulars, just found out she is suddenly a "break out author" at Simon and Schuster. As she puts it, "an overnight success after fifteen years of hard work", well, not exactly an overnight success. Actually Crank is a bit of an anomaly. Apparently, most books either catch on fire right off the press or quickly smolder to death, but Crank has been out for over three years and is a grassroots, cross-over success. Look for it soon, front and center at both Barns and Noble and Borders. It's movin' up from the stacks.

As is an old Ash Canyon tradition, we went to the Fandango Casino after the meeting. The wine was flowing and Liz made a startling confession about the worst thing she's ever done. Whew! This woman has an all too rare quality, manners.

Footnote: As a kid Liz and her friends watched the first nuke test from a hilltop in the Nevada desert. She died of radiation poisoning.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Juju Queen

Another anomalous moment from our New Year's day celebration. The Juju Queen spontaneously hurls herself on the floor for an impromptu snake dance.

The Juju Queen welcomes the new year


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Surge for Bush

Current US Body Count
"Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results".

Now the Republicans have announced they are going to do what we all knew they were going to do in Iraq, repackage the same old failed same old plan ... send more and more Americans to needless injury and death. Bastards all.

Note: A Different Iraq Metric

Early this year the Bush administration is to ask Congress to approve an additional $100bn for the onerous task of making life intolerable for the Iraqis. This will bring the total spent on the White House's current obsession with war to almost $500bn - enough to have given every US citizen $1,600 each... with over half a million dead, it means that the world's greatest military superpower has spent a million dollars for every Iraqi killed...

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Walkabout and dirt bath party

I was in Carson City twice in the last couple of days running errands and naturally brought my camera with me so it ended up being a photo walkabout as well.

I also stopped by Comma Coffee to talk with June about relocating a portion of Bill Cowee's poetry collection there. Sadly Bill, Godfather of Ash Canyon Poets, is in failing health and is in the process of moving into a care facility. One of his primary concerns is to find a home for his vast, wonderful collection of poetry books, journals, little magazines and obscure, single run chap books. He has an amazing collection. Ash Canyon poets get the first pick. After that, the majority of the books will be donated to public and school libraries.

The remainder, six book shelves worth (shelves included), will go to Comma Coffee. This is the lovely little library that Bill used to house at Carson City's Brewery Arts Center where Ash Canyon Poets have met every Friday night for many years, that is until recently when the center rate hikes forced Ash Canyon to seek a new home. For the last several months the Brewery Arts books have been tucked away in Terry Breedon's basement. Today I was hoping to make the final arrangements with June to move them to the cafe but she was too busy to discuss it. I stayed for a while anyay, had coffee and read. I am finally in the last thrilling pages of volume 4 of the Otherland series. Good read.

It was a blue sky day in Nevada. The quail were certainly enjoying it, especially as just a few days ago they were scurrying around in a blizzard looking for whatever frozen seed they could scratch up. To celebrate the warm weather, they had a dirt bath party in my back yard.


Monday, January 8, 2007

New Year resolutions and troupe members

I am very impressed with Roy's decision to post every day this year. Never mind he's been under the weather and already missed a day. That just makes him human, for which I am grateful. I am inspired by his resolve. It's a good way to insure that one writes every day so I secretly decided to try doing it myself but, after switching to one of Blogger's new templates this morning and fiddling with it all day, I decided to abandon the goal. This is the best I can do at this late hour, and once the bloom of the new year fades, I know it won't get any better. Once again I resort to photos to fluff things up. She hasn't revealed her name yet but Wolfie recognized her the minute she arrived, and has been at her side ever since. As you can see, he's very protective of her so I've been leaving them to themselves. Seems they have some catching up to do.

Saturday, January 6, 2007


M. Lee turned me on to this documentary by Ryan Larkin and Chris Landreth. It won an Academy Award in 2004 for Best Animated Short which is kind of sweet, given the story. More on Larkin here.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Nevada at night

It's (finally) snowing ... big, fat flakes ... just why now when I have to go to town? I hate driving in weather like this but gotta go. Wish me luck.

Wells Ave. - Reno

Casino diner

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Masks for the New Year

A couple of friends and I had a New Year/Winter Solstice, vegetarian feast, mask making, I Ching party on the 1st. Naturally, I took a bunch of photos and videos. The masks aren't painted yet but here is a video of Susan wearing hers, playing around with homegrown mudras and a set of japa mala. Happy New Year!