Category: Dogs


On August 24th, 79AD, one day following Vulcanalia, the Roman festival for the god of fire, Mt Vesuvius erupted and buried the town of Pompeii in layers of ash and pumice.  At the time, those living in Pompeii were not even aware that the beautiful mountain dominating their horizon was an active volcano.  In fact, the hadn’t even a word yet for volcano in their vocabulary.

Charlotte, NC was one of only four cities in the United States granted permission to display for the next few months artifacts and the body casts of people, pets and even livestock uncovered in Pompeii.  

Today I took the girls to the exhibit.  I knew I couldn’t fully explain the devastation, so I did my best to help them understand what we would be seeing once we entered the exhibit by showing them a BBC film about the disaster and also by talking about what life would have been like for people living 2000 years ago.  

Inside the museum we saw frescos – (and we learned the word fresco translated into English means “fresh” and described the method of painting murals while the plaster was still wet, or fresh) – preserved by the hot ash ovens with bread still inside, jewelry, currency, and several types of amphorae which were large ceramic vessels that held oil, wine, fish or grain.  Inscribed on one of these amphora was the Latin word “Auctus” which gave rise to our English word meaning auction.  The writing also described the day the piece was sold at auction, “under a blue sky” and the name of either the buyer or the seller.  This information was relayed to us by a scholar and actress dressed as if she had just walked out of the first century.     

I didn’t realize we would be seeing the body-casts.  We were lead down a dark hall into a darkened room where only the eerie white casts of bodies could be seen.  These casts were made by Giuseppe Fiorelli who excavated the site during the nineteenth century.  According to Wiki, “During early excavations of the site, occasional voids in the ash layer had been found that contained human remains. It was Fiorelli who realised these were spaces left by the decomposed bodies…”  Fiorelli devised a way of injecting plaster into the molds thus preserving the bodies of victims of Vesuvius down to the expressions on their faces.  

Even I was not prepared for the emotions that swept through me.  And my youngest begged to go home.  The sight was both compelling and humbling:   The dog chained and without hope of surviving; the couple holding each-other in one final embrace; the slaves whose legs were bound; the woman who tried in vain to cover her face with a cloth against the toxic plume; the pig whose ribs shown through patches of thick skin.  The images will haunt me for some time.  Not in the bad way you might imagine, but in a way that reminds us of our own mortality and keeps us present in the moment.  These casts are the ghosts of our history and they tell their own stories to us individually.  

A walk through uptown concluded our day in Pompeii where our cityscape, though taller, is not all that different.  We still build monuments to ourselves of marble and adorn these buildings with art and sculpture.  We walk the crowded streets full of bustling commerce.  And we walk among those more or less fortunate than ourselves in that imaginary hierarchy that means little in the scheme of things; for the slaves of Pompeii are remembered and revered alongside the wealthiest and most influential members of their society. 

Above: Bronze statues at Trade and Tryon, the Hearst Tower (my favorite building)

And I can’t leave out the gals who had a splendid adventure.  I love that Wolfy is just fixated on the Bank of America tower.  You can’t see the top when your standing at street level – it’s pretty magical for a little person.

Advertisements

I’m so sick of being treated like a lesser woman because I’m not gainfully employed while working as a mother to three children.  I’m not a SOCCER MOM (what the hell does this mean, really?!), or a STAY AT HOME MOM (I get out of the house plenty to walk the dog, get groceries, a walk in the park, etc.), or UNEMPLOYED (for tax-purposes only – if I were paid for the job I do, I’d be making six-figures), I used to write STUDENT as my profession because I was embarrassed to say MOTHER.  

When you get right down to it, what career is more important than motherhood?  We’re shaping the future.  Of course, I am not going to ask women not to work outside the home, but I would appreciate some RESPECT for the work I do as both a mother and person.  

I mean even those women labeled “soccer moms” whomever you are – I can only picture an AYSO soccer bumper-sticker on the back some mini-van – are individuals first before they fall under some broad-umbrella title.  We all share the same concerns over our children’s future; we all worry about things like global climate change, dental health, schools and education, crime-stats, time and yeah, even stuff like soccer schedules.  

Anyway, I just needed to vent.  I’ve not experienced much of this in Charlotte.  Actually quite the opposite!  A man behind me in line practically balled me out the other day when I apologized for taking too long getting my bags out of his way.  He said, “We should be helping you!  You’re the one balancing six bags of groceries and three children.”  No, I didn’t check for a ring.  🙂

There’s a man I pass often on my morning walks with Celli.  He looks like a young Morgan Freeman, always wearing a blue shirt and dark blue pants, with a worn, wise look across his face and sometimes a hat; sometimes not.  Always, he smiles warmly and says hello.  This morning, as he passed, I was busy listening to the foreman yelling at the Mexican men brought up from Texas to work on the condo development next door.  The foreman’s voice carried well, “What are you doing?  Don’t speak like that.  Don’t speak Spanish here!”

I was about to ball him out, when the Morgan Freeman man passed and I watched as he shook his head and smiled at the foreman.  It sort of took the wind out of my sails, and yet as I watched one of the Mexican men smile back I knew we were all in the same frame of mind.  The foreman was a creep, but we weren’t going to let it ruin our day.

Celli finished sniffing some shrub and I walked swiftly to catch up to the younger version of Morgan Freeman.  As I caught up, he looked down at me and raised his cup of coffee.  I said, “You look like you’re enjoying yourself.”  His walk was slow, his gaze always turning to take in the next sight.  He didn’t walk like the rest of the Uptown lot – with their fast-paced, eyes-forward, ears plugged into the iPod strapped around their pin-stripped arms.  “I take it all in,” he said gesturing to the magnificent city before us glittering in the new sunlight.  “Hmmm,” I said, “It really is the most beautiful part of the day.”  

“Yes it is!” he agreed, his stride not once faltering.  

I was holding a green bag full of smelly dog mess, so I felt it rude to continue walking beside him.  I hurried ahead to drop off the bag in the receptacle, but afterward, I stopped and let Celli sniff the grass.  I looked up at the city, at the trees framing it, and I listened for a moment to birds, the train, the sound of high-heels on concrete, of traffic, horns, a lawn-mower just over the hill cutting grass.  My stride was slower as I walked toward the building.  I was taking it all in.

Today I drove out to Lake Norman to see a house for rent.  The house was beautiful, but moreover, seeing the lake got me thinking about something Erick said about Lake Norman being the largest fresh water lake other than the Great Lakes.  It’s an enormous sprawling lake with roads crossing at various points.  In fact, I believe it’s the only site in the US where a fatality occurred when a boat came out of the water and hit a moving car.  

Erick had to work late, so I drove to the house with the girls and brought Celli in place of him.  He asked me why I like taking the dog whenever he’s not in the car and I explained that while I’m driving, she leans back into the seat sideways and spends half her time concentrating on the road and the other half giving me kisses or puppy-dog eyes.  Who could ask for more?

On the way home, as I pulled onto Moorehead, I saw a man holding a cardboard sign on the side of the road.  In grim economic times, we see a lot of men asking for work, but this man’s sign read simply, “God bless you.”

I’m not religious, but it felt good to know someone believes in something enough to stand on the side of a dirty and dangerous road with such a simple message.  

I thought if I were to dedicate an afternoon to a message, my own sign would read, “You are loved.”

Click here for the last lecture.

This afternoon we drove out to Grandfather Mountain and did some exploration in the rain.  It was a **beautiful** trip and I hope to return sometime soon.  At the peak, Grandfather is over one mile high and there’s a suspension bridge leading to the peak that spans a forty-foot gorge one mile deep!  The girls enjoyed the wildlife – cougars, an eagle, bear, an otter, some deer and a muskrat that crossed the road while we were leaving.  Celli accompanied us and seemed to enjoy the mountain as much, if not more than anyone. 

Driving to the peak was exciting.  Our back wheels slid against the sharp inclines, and our truck was far too big for some of the 180-degree turns, but we managed and made it to the top with time to spare before the storm.

The storm hit hard some time after Hickory and seemed to be firing water and lightning at anything that moved.  In the city, the thunder roared and ricocheted between buildings – like War of the Worlds, only really wet. The rivers were swollen to twice their size – I guess this happens quickly down here.  Everyone drove with their hazards because the water was so deep on the roads and you couldn’t make out the other cars very well.  One of the things I love about this region is the rains storms – they last for hours, unlike Michigan where it seemed we would get bursts of a storm, but they would quickly fizzle (except in the winter when the snow seemed never-ending).  

We’ve enjoyed some fireworks in the city – reminds me so much of Harbor Days back home.  What a wonderful end to such an adventurous trip.  Tomorrow we hope to see the ocean!

Happy holiday everyone!  Have a safe, adventurous weekend.

The girls take a break beneath split-rock – One serious bolder.

Okay, they weren’t really wild like I told my mom.  They were as tame as could be and waiting for hand-outs from visitors.  

Popo and I take a break in the rain for one quick photo 5000+feet in the air.  Photo by Wolfy.

The Mile-high “swinging bridge”

 

The storm was raging by the time we reached Charlotte.  Cars, trucks and motorcyclists especially crowded under overpasses to wait for a clearing.  Visibility was crap and here you can see the hazards on the car ahead of us.  

My favorite stop along 321.  The only truly affordable and fun, hand-made locally shop I’ve found.

I love the drive into the mountains for all of the old farmsteads and homesteads, fruit-stands and the views!

In the heat, Celli cools off by lying on any concrete surface she can find:

For the last few days I’ve noticed my dog has been anxious.  Today, I’ve come to realize why.  She’s been trying to teach me something and I haven’t been a very receptive until now.

Today I learned that life is all about learning to come to terms with the simple fact that we are not at the probable center of the universe; that we are not isolated matter; that we are more than the sole survivor of our own enlightenment.  Today I realized life isn’t about proving yourself to others; it’s about recognizing yourself in them and allowing yourself the freedom to change and grow.  Today I learned anxiousness can be cured.  And today I learned to look past the issues to see the real person – and I forgave myself that I don’t always like what I see.  

Today I learned to listen to those who love me most and to trust my own interpretations of this wild and crazy world.  Thanks Celli, friend.

Things are really heating up here in the south.  I’ve heard it rumored that running in the summer air down here is like swimming.  Only underwater, you try not to breathe – outside, you haven’t a choice. It’s a challenge to get enough air right now, but I think this will only help in the long run (pardon the pun). 

I’m amazed at all the support coming in via email and comments regarding the upcoming fund-raising and half-marathon and all I can say is **Thank-you!**  It means a whole heck of a lot to see both friends and strangers reach out with encouragement.  Agreeing to run a marathon is not an easy decision and in this case it’s compounded by the fund-raising goal.  I’m in a new town where I know very few people and I’m not a natural runner.  As with the cancer-battle, this isn’t an act of physical endurance as much it is pure determination.      

This morning, near the end of my run, I thought about the people I’ve met who’ve inspired me.  Thinking of them took away the awareness of my fatigue and allowed me to make one more stride after one more stride until I crossed the imaginary finish-line.  Out of breath from trying to breathe in the thick air, I thought to myself, only twelve more miles to go!  Right now it doesn’t seem possible, but with each stride I’m a little closer to my end goal.  And as a team of mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers; husbands and wives and children; taking on this disease and running full tilt toward a cure; stride by stride, we’re that much closer to our goal for a cure.  

Tomorrow, Celli and I are walking for a cure for human and canine cancers: The 2008 Dogs Walk Against Cancer.  Lymphoma is a common cancer for dogs, so we’re proud to be taking part in an event to raise money and awareness for we two-leggers and our four-legged friends.

Thank-you again for your support!

Celli and I bundled up against anticipated cold. Friday was near 90-degrees, then temperatures dropped into the 40s for the rest of the weekend. When we stepped outside into a thick fog, the air felt warm and wonderful and I decided then that springtime in the Carolinas is noncommittal. We go through the seasons during this time, as if to reflect on each. As though we needed reminding of our gratitude for the warmer months by showering us with a cold autumn rain or a sudden severe winter wind. It definitely helps. I’m loving these days when the air is gentle and the birds seem to be singing out joyfully in a backdrop of blossoming shrubs and trees.

Erick and I ventured out to the music store with the girls yesterday. I met some really neat people in the woodwind/string section while Erick was playing the bass across the store with the girls. I’d really like to make some friends down here sooner than later. I miss that connection we had up north. It will likely get easier when we know we’re settled somewhere, but I’m still going to try. I know there are a lot of people feeling much the same in this great expanse of city and I think the same thought frightens us all away from committing to a friendship. I think it’s the choices – the sheer numbers. There are so many new people we meet each day only never to see them again, you feel sort of awkward asking one of them out to coffee without looking like you’re trying to pick them up. Even the store seems to rotate through employees so fast I have trouble keeping track of faces, let alone names.

There was that guy who wanted to know all about Michigan. He was Greek, but had lived here most of his life. I told him about the Mackinac Bridge. He had never heard of the Mackinac Bridge and he was so intrigued! I could have easily gotten along with him, but I’ve never seen him since. And there was the woman from Russia at the train stop with two small children. We hit it off instantly, but I hesitated to give her my number for the same reasons I mentioned above. Would I ever see her again even though she lives only one street down? I have not yet.

The nice thing about all this variety is that I’m feeling more comfortable around strangers. I’m able to be direct, communicate and laugh with them. I love them for their potential to be great friends. And there are just so many beautiful people in this city, at times, you just want to observe them. The diversity of culture is incredible, welcome. The languages sifting through the great halls that connect Wachovia One with Wachovia Two remind me of the songbirds lining the electric cables powering the light rail. Their songs mingle to form one flavorful medley. When the train passes Celli and I in the morning, though the engineer and I have never met face-to-face, we wave and smile. We connect and that connection lasts long after the rails have quieted in my contemplation of what could be, what will be given a little patience and time.

We made tacos last night and proved to ourselves food does not have to be pretty to be tasty.

stpatricksday3_08-031.jpg

The living room during lessons…

stpatricksday3_08-044.jpg

Celli being a beagle… I was doing some reading on beagles and found they are one of the most loyal breeds, bonding with the pack and as excitable as a terrier.  Ours is excitable only in the morning.

stpatricksday3_08-042.jpg

The kitchen…

stpatricksday3_08-045.jpg

Some architectural features.  Did I mention I looked at a house yesterday that was so grotesque, I actually gagged?  Paneling and animal pelts as far as the eye could see…  This apartment on the other hand offers an open, airy feeling and the only animal pelt is being worn by the animal.

stpatricksday3_08-046.jpg

A little office-nook…

stpatricksday3_08-047.jpg

And this is where the magic happens…  Isn’t it the perfect example of utilitarian?  Our bed is still in Michigan along with most of our life, but soon….

stpatricksday3_08-048.jpg

At least the rooms are gigantic… And the bathrooms and closets echo that vastness of space…  (sorry about the mess)

stpatricksday3_08-049.jpg

This concludes our tour.  The girls also have a gimongo bath and closet.  Lot’s of places to hide baskets full of prizes for the holiday.  HAPPY EASTER!

Today has been strange.  This morning began well with three good walks around the neighborhood – two with Celli and one to feed the birds.  I think I may have a sunburn!  Spring has arrived in Charlotte.

Around noon I went in for my scan.  This PET was far different than my usual.  They gave me a sedative and a diuretic which made me sleepy, but with the need to pee every five minutes.  The benefit, however, was that I slept through the entire scan!  Afterward  I came home where Erick served an amazing lunch and then I drooled myself to sleep for another five hours.  The rest was welcome, however, I’m not sure I’ll sleep tonight.

So, I feel a bit strange that the day has passed when it still feels like noon to me.  I’m glad to have it over with and I’ll have the results tomorrow.  They really have it together down here – a huge perk for cancer survivors tired of the week wait to find out whether or not they’re in the clear.  [Fingers crossed.]

Oh, and I’m not glowing in the dark, for those who wondered.