The Porch People

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc officially joined the Porch People in the spring after she moved into her first home that was built in 1907. The lemonade front porches with their rockers and hanging swings are what attracted her to the neighborhood. The Friday night gatherings on the front porches are what kept her there for 18 years.  Although this happened before I was born, I can tell by the way Doc talks about it that those neighbors and experiences will always be embedded in her heart.

The weekly gatherings centered around discussing the events of the week with a cold beverage, a lot of laughter and emotional support when needed. Neighbors out for an evening stroll would often stop for a moment to chew the fat and catch up on the latest news.

Doc told me that her neighbors supported her through her Ph.D, the death of her parents and almost every good and not so good experience of her life.

Most holidays were celebrated on one of those porches as well. Doc’s favorite was always Halloween when the neighbors gathered out front in the cool fall night waiting for all the ghosts and goblins to arrive. Then it was off to the neighbors for sloppy joes and cider when trick or treat was over.

Even after Doc moved, she would go back to the neighborhood to sit for a while on warm summer evenings. As all good things must come to an end, it was with a feeling of melancholy that Doc sat on the porch across the street from her old house for the last time. Her good friends Joe and Marie had sold their house. As the sun set and the lightning bugs began twinkling in the dark, they reflected on all the good times they had in that neighborhood, knowing the new owners would be welcomed there. Doc couldn’t help thinking about all the people who sat on those same porches for over a hundred years and how that will continue for more generations.

We may live in a fast world of technology and communication, but I think it is the simplicity of the front porches of this world that will keep us bonded together if we just take the time.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

— Michael Cunnigham

Celebrating At Mutts Paradise!

Photo by Angela Kirk

If you have never been to a dog birthday party, then you don’t know what you’re missing. The place where Doc and I work planned the best doggie extravaganza I have ever attended. And to think it was to honor my upcoming birthday. To tell you the truth, I became a bit verkclempted when I saw all my doggie friends and co-workers.

This place had it all, acres to run with my friends and a big pond to swim in. It was dog heaven.

A few of my old dog friends Eddie and Cash showed up and I met some new dogs as well. I got tickled by a younger dog named Chase. You know how there’s always that one dog at the party that’s a little out of hand? Well that was Chase. Half way through the party he got stuck in the paddle boat by himself and couldn’t get back to shore, but he let out a bark and we all went to his rescue. I have to hand it to the little guy, he was quite content to chase butterflies through the fields alone. He’s a dog that is easily entertained, an asset really.

My favorite part of the day was the nice Birthday treats my friends brought me. I was happy to share and even confiscated a donut from the box on the picnic table that was calling my name.

As the time drew near to leave, the humans attempted to get us together to pose for pictures by luring us with goodies. It was actually quite comical as they tried in vain to organize us together. If they would have asked we could have told them that was a bad idea as we all tried to get to the treats at once.

All and all it was a great day for this dog. Just a thought for you uptight humans out there….anytime you have a chance to go out and get wet and muddy with your friends go for it, it is pure nirvana.

 

Photo by Angela Kirk “The reason I love my dog so much is because when I come home he’s the only one in the world who treats me like I’m the Beatles.”

— Bill Maher

Friends Come in all Shapes and Sizes

Photo by Angela Kirk

The animal world doesn’t really discriminate. Out at the farm where Doc takes the patients for Equine assisted therapy there are two horses that are best friends. One of them just happens to be a miniature horse and the other a full size mare. The humans sometimes question this union, but obviously the horses don’t care, they just love each other.

There are many different parings between animals of different sizes and species that bond together. At the Columbus Zoo you can see a labrador retriever living with two cheetahs. They were raised together since they were babies and act like any siblings would with each other. It really is a magical thing to witness and a testament to how we can all learn to get along.

The beauty of being an animal is that we have no prejudice or judgment of each other. We either work it out or not. Acceptance is not based on ego, how much money we have, our species, or any other host of criteria that humans like to use. There is a wonderful sense of freedom in that. I think humans can miss out on enriching their lives by not getting to know people that are from different back grounds or cultures.

Doc read me a quote by a man named Tom Retterbush that sums it up beautifully; ” If animals of totally different species can get along, why can’t humans get along with others of our own species? We’re supposed to be the intelligent ones.”

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Only if we understand can we care. Only if we care, will we help. Only if we help, shall they be saved.”

— Dr. Jane Goodall

Baby Bunnies in the Burbs

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc has been yakking all week about the nest of baby bunnies we found in our yard, but let me tell you my side of the story.

Last Thursday night Doc was mowing the lawn in the back yard. I was lounging on the porch watching her work when I noticed some movement in the mulch under the Maple tree. Every time I approached the tree, the mulch shifted.  I admit – it freaked me out at first.  So, I jumped back unsure of what evil might be emerging from the bowels of the earth. Suddenly, I saw a little furry head with two pointed ears pop up out of the ground. By that time, Doc was coming closer to the spot with the mower and I became frantic trying to warn her. After a few times of approaching her and running back to the baby rabbits, she finally stopped the mower to see what I was so upset about. When she spotted the baby bunnies the color drained from her face frightened she may have hurt one. Slowly she got down on her hands and knees and gently removed the mulch, grass and bunny fur covering the hole. Looking inside she counted 6 little bunnies all huddled together. After checking them out, she let out a sigh when she saw that they were not hurt. After she stood up,  she scanned the yard and said in a loud accusatory voice ” Where is your mother?” Thinking they might be abandoned she put away the mower, got on the internet and did what Doc always does, she researched the problem.

What she found out is that the mother rabbit only comes at dawn and dusk to feed the babies so that she does not attract potential prey to the nest. Doc also read that the babies will leave the nest after about 10 days. After pondering all that information, Doc knew what to do. She decided right then and there that we would co-parent the bunnies until they left the nest.

That evening we sat quietly looking out the window of the back door waiting for mama bunny to show up. And sure enough she came under the fence, squatted over the nest and all 6 little furry heads popped up to be nursed.

The next day the bunnies began exploring the world around them so every night Doc and I counted the bunnies right before dark to make sure they were tucked into bed safe and sound. I wouldn’t say we turned into bunny stalkers but we came very close.

This week when we got home from work, we went out to check on our bunnies and to our dismay, the nest was empty. Both Doc and I worried about those bunnies for the rest of the day. Then at about 9pm we got our answer. Doc happened to look outside, saw the mother come under our fence and all six little bunnies hopped in behind her from all different directions to be fed.

You can always count on nature to know just what to do. Mama bunny didn’t really need our help, but is was fun being a part of it all.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” The idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that is wrong with the world.”

— Dr. Paul Farmer

Painful Endings

 Every Sunday night Doc and I cuddle in bed to watch one of our favorite shows, “Parts Unknown”  starring Anthony Bourdain.  We loved how every week he introduced us to different food, culture and social issues.  He connected with others through his transparency, adventurous spirit and great curiosity. That’s why it was so shocking when I heard Doc gasp as she read the news on-line that he apparently hanged himself. Earlier in the week designer Kate Spade committed suicide by hanging as well. On the outside both of theses celebrities appeared like they had everything. It just goes to show that you never know what demons people wrestle with deep in their souls. Sadly, Anthony and Kate are not the only ones, as by the time you finish this blog another person will have taken their own life.

In 2016 there were 44,965 recorded suicides in the United States having increased 24% between 1999 and 2014. ( CDC’S National Center for Health Statistics) Suicide has become a major national public health issue. It is the 10th leading cause of death overall.

In Doc’s many years counseling others she has talked to those wanting to kill themselves along with the families of those that have lost loved ones to suicide.  It is always heart wrenching. People’s pain is not always visible on the surface and often they hide their feelings frightened they will be judged or shamed. If there is a lesson from these most recent losses it is this; humans suffer painful experiences and we need to support each other through these times with unconditional love and compassion for each other.

If you are thinking about suicide or someone you love needs emotional support call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at (1-800-273-8255).

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Unresolved emotional pain is the great contagion of our time-of all time.”

— Marc Ian Barasch