11 May 2011

Texas and big

Texas really is bigger than life in many ways.  Just this afternoon I sat working as lightning flashed and thunder rolled by and rattled the windows.  In California this would have been a reason to cut in on regular programming and deploy teams of reporters.  In Texas?  Not so much.  The weather radio treebles and squawks only when the winds are so high that there is danger of a tornado.  Otherwise it's just noisy rain.

However, our recent wildfires didn't impress the Administration (over 3400 square miles, or roughly seven times the size of Los Angeles, 50 times the size of DC, and three times the land area of Rhode Island, as Ed Morrissey pointed out this week on Hot Air).

As it happens, Texas has its own employment gravitational field, as its business-friendly policies bring more and more companies in.  You can't throw a rock without hitting a church.  It is quite common for the citizenry to be saved the cost of a trial through accurate and effective self-defense against assailants and robbers.  The city is quite diverse.  Delicious food.  Friendly people who seem to not think they are more important than you.

I like it here.

05 May 2011

About a dog

There's been some notice taken of the dogs that work with SEALs and others on combat duty.  The dogs that can fight are usually Belgian Malinois or German Shepherds.

OK, here's the deal on the Belgian sheep dogs.  Three varieties:  Gronendael (black hair), Tervuren (straight brown/black hair), and Malinois (short tan hair).  Same dog underneath.  I adopted a Belgian Tervuren mix 10 years ago. 

I trained him with Jan Fennell's 'Amichien' technique. He was a working dog for me, a companion for long midnight walks in neighborhoods where the threat was mainly from coyotes or bobcats.

These dogs are not for everyone. They need not just a job, but a career.  They are problem-solvers. When properly trained they are fearsome, able to focus in even chaotic situations, and worth enough in utility alone to justify their expensive armor.

Mine became an intuitive, attentive guardian companion who earned many, many compliments through the years for his handsome appearance and reliably impeccable manners in all sorts of situations. He was trained to gestures as well as sounds and words. His pre-adoption life had left him fearful and ignorant of home life, but with consistent training he gained poise and courage. His accomplishments were no less valuable or impressive to my family and me than those of the trained war-dogs.

I speak of him in past tense, but he's still alive, just very old and tottery.  Through the grace of God, when I left California behind, the woman who bought my house fell in love with my gentle friend, after he went up to her and leaned confidentially against her and put up his head for a pat.  It was as though he knew she would be his new leader.  Because he is nearly blind and going deaf and unsteady on his feet at times, it was wonderful to know he would be in the same house where he'd always lived, no steps, instead of in a place with steep stairs and harsh weather.  If I didn't know the two of them were going along together - he still doing his job to the best of his ability, watching the house and her - I would grieve for him terribly.  But I've been back to visit a couple of times, and he's happy with her.  She says extravagant things to him and rubs his belly and he loves it in ordinately.

He will break our hearts one day, unable to keep on going.  I hope for her sake and mine he just drops dead, or is found in the middle of a nap with no end.

I always felt like I was getting away with something, having this beautiful, intelligent being in my life when he could just as easily done all kinds of valuable work elsewhere.  How God has blessed me.

02 May 2011

John Paul II

As I read about the beatification in Rome, I think:  this is a very powerful saint.  Not only did he do amazing things for God during his journey through this vale of tears, he is still working for us in heaven.

I want to dig out the enormous New American Bible my mom got for me the year I was received into the Church.  Its language is beautiful, it was beautifully printed, and it contained an excellent dictionary/ cyclopedia in the back.  For some reason the Church didn't carry through on that, and the U.S. wing of the church continues to munge the NAB into stilted, deconstructed incomprehensibility.

But John Paul II was one of the great proponents of the vision of the Vatican II council.  He was a great man, only because he lived for the Lord.  Benedict XVI is another one of those.  They stand for the truth, in the face of a world yowling for anything but.  There were moments of beauty in the Vatican II council spirit, the idea of renewal without loss.  There were those who leveraged it for their own purposes.  They, and their self-referent ideas, are dying out.  But Jesus Christ still lives.

Jesus Christ still lives.