Friday Five

1. Spent some time with a friend giving her tips to train her puppy. Ellie (the puppy) is a long-haired dachshund, about 10 weeks old. She is cuter than..well just about anything I’ve seen lately. We worked on sit and down. Of course Ellie has the attention span of a gnat so about 5 minutes of training followed by an hour nap was in order, but I was impressed with how quickly she learned the two commands. (She even remembered them after the nap!) There will be a few more training sessions in Ellie’s future (especially to learn the difficult “leave it”). Until then Ellie has some homework to do in between being impossibly cute and napping.

2. Have I mentioned how much I hate packing?

3. I’ve avoided adding my two cents about the the Gulf oil spill because it’s just so disheartening, so horrific, so sad. In hindsight how ridiculous is the campaign trail chant “Drill, baby, drill” sounding now?  And how ridiculous is it that just weeks before this catastrophe the president approved drilling off the coast of Florida but not closer than 125 miles to shore (as if that makes it okay)?  But let’s not make this a political discussion, although it certainly could be.

Let’s wonder why most U.S. rigs do not have a “fail safe” shut off switch (even though the European counterparts in the North Sea do), or why BP doesn’t seem to have contingency plan for every conceivable emergency. (Even my company has a business continuity plan and we’re just a bunch of paper pushers.) And actually, although I think BP has, from time to time, behaved abhorrantly, I have to believe they’re doing everything they can to stop the oil flow. I mean, why wouldn’t they?

A friend of mine believes we should be drilling for US oil and stop buying it from the Middle East. Is that really possible? Because the biggest question is: why does 5% of the world’s population consume 25% of the world’s energy? Nothing is going to change until each of us does and we stop looking for a scapegoat.

Here is one town that has done just that. Good luck, Magnolia Springs, Alabama.

4. Reggie’s run-in. My neighborhood is very family-friendly and with the warm weather kids are always outside playing on the sidewalk. Like most city dogs, Reggie can easily ignore kids playing stoop ball, hopscotch, skateboards, and even pogo sticks. But last week a kid in a pirate costume, about age 4, ran straight for him wielding a plastic sword. The kid was screaming and leading about 5 other kids in a game. He bounded up to Reggie and then before I even knew what was happening, he grabbed Reggie’s ears with both hands. Maybe if Reggie was a more docile dog or an affable golden retriever, this wouldn’t have been a problem. But he was not going to take that. He lunged at the kid, barking and snarling. Luckily I pulled back on the leash with enough force to keep them apart (one more reason why people shouldn’t use retractable leashes).

And then, do you know what happened next? The stupid kid came toward Reggie again! This time I’d collected my wits and stepped between them. I shouted at the kid, “No!” The kid shrugged and kept running down the sidewalk presumably after the next dog . Reggie and I walked home while I thanked the universe that he had enough restraint to keep from biting the boy. Note to self: I’ll be writing my next column for the Best Friends kids’ page about how to approach dogs you don’t know.

5. The late Bill Holm, author of The Windows of Brimnes: An American in Iceland, said that you see life more clearly, gain more perspective when you can get away from it for a while. “After a while in the United States, it’s just too much. Too much religion, not enough gods. Too much news, not enough wisdom. Too much entertainment, not enough beauty. Too much electricity, not enough light. Too many books, not enough readers. So I come here to this spare place. A little thinning and pruning is a little anodyne for the soul. We see more clearly when the noise is less, the objects fewer.” I love that. It’s one reason why I’m excited to go to Iceland. (Holm said that he almost certainly wrote this paragraph from something he’d coddled together after reading Whitman and Thoreau, “two saints in the church of Bill Holm.” Makes me like him even more.)

Until Holm passed away last year, he summered in Iceland and wintered in Minnesota. “Americans like to think they have the truth. That there is one fundamental answer for every situation. Beware the single truth. Inside it, anywhere on earth, is a loaded gun pointed straight at your head. There is nothing like travel for telling you that there is no such thing [as the single truth]: in religion, in politics, in human affairs. The truth is always a little more complicated than you thought it was and looking at it from the next country or continent will make you a better neighbor.”

The next Friday Five will be the Icelandic Edition. Stay tuned.

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