I have been very busy these days after months of lethargy and depression catching up with work that had been put aside. When the weather become warm, I want to start gardening and taking care of the lawn outdoors. I need to be very disciplined however I can be most tempted to stray when a film I truly love comes on the schedule for Turner Classic Movies. Last night, when I should have been sleeping, the movie scheduled was among my top 5, Splendor in the Grass, directed by Elia Kazan, starring a very young Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty, made in 1961. Another lifetime ago, I may add. I know I can write volumes about this movie and why Iike it so much, but now is not the time. I will say, even having seen it a dozen times, each viewing is as new and raw and shocking as was the first time. It is difficult to watch the growing pains of two young people who love each other trying to do the right thing while everyone around them is acting badly and the world as they know it is undergoing profound social changes, even in the Nebraska heartland. And yes, it is excruciatingly painful to watch them as they come undone and become unrecognizable people from whom they were at the beginning of the story. Together, once so close, they launch their adult lives in such different places, determined not to think much about happiness anymore, and say a simple good by before setting off apart.
As actors, the careers of Natalie Wood and Warren Beatty exploded with stardom and success, including Oscars. It is always a joy to watch their films, each one so different yet rewarding. They talents are boundless. Natalie was taken far too prematurely with a tragedy that defied all logic, as if it were part of the plot of the movie she was making. It never added up to me…… But the death of a great movie star usually does not. They never really die. The movies and the stars I love so much share my heart with the dogs and the horse I have loved so much. I am so grateful for the technology that enables us to watch, rent or stream virtually any movie we want to watch almost anytime for a very small amount of money. They are my companions in my loneliness.
So far, summer has been lovely. Unfortunately for me, I have spent way too much time performing grueling labor. First, I created flower beds, involving bringing in soil and mulch. There were two long flower beds involved, both about sixty-five feet long. I don’t know how my fragile, petite body did it. After that was done, I had to turn my attention to the deck with the peeling paint, that the contractor said was “normal” and “okay”. I did not agree. He did not stand behind his work. Angry words were spoken, and I said, well, I will fix this myself. On the outside, I was strong and tough, but on the inside, I was devastated and depressed. I can’t imagine anyone I know having to do anything even remotely like this daunting a task. It made the garden work look easy. But, my depression only made me tackle it with more ferocity. I was not going to let this mean man get the better of me. Home Depot is my new Bloomingdales. I can go in and not even have to ask where things are anymore. I can take care of myself now. It is my goal to reverse the damage done to my deck by staining it after the wood was clean and sanded.
Aside from that debacle, I see many of my Facebook friends are enjoying beautiful vacations. A very respected pair of twin sisters recently rescued some horses, and used them to go on a horse-b ack riding vacation out west, which is where they live. They took photographs of the beautiful scenery their journey with their horses took them. I cannot even imagine a more enjoyable vacation than spending time on a journey through the American west with a beloved sister and on horseback. It struck me as such a precious gift to give one another, that their closeness allows they share so much the same passions. They are both sight-hound breeders, and AKC judges. I am truly in awe of them and their accomplishments. I was sent several other Facebook vacation photos of friends in other pretty places enjoying themselves, but they all paled in comparison to those of the two sisters riding in the west.
I was thrown a cruel dagger this week from a cruel woman, a woman who just spits out venom without any thought of how she sounds, or the damage she does to the human spirit. It has gotten her in trouble before, and she certainly has gotten herself in trouble with me, and my friendship with Jelly’s breeder, N24. That is unfortunate. The woman spoke for her, alleging I am no longer welcome at N24’s home because she does not like my Tresor, with whom I travel and bring there with me. We never had a problem with him there because she has adequate space to keep him separated from her one male, and he is very well behaved around bitches. This is a very tender place in my heart, or so I found out. I cannot bear to think that people have ill will toward My Boy, who, along with myself, has been through so much. We lost Bob to cancer six years ago. It caused me to have to give him up. then, two years ago, he was suddenly given back. And yes, it is a bit beyond my ability to handle him. I need help. However, my home has a very good set up for him, and unless there is an accident with one of the fences, or a door – more about that follows – Tresor is safe and secure here with me. He is a wonderful borzoi, full of love and happiness for people, and all he asks of life is to be walked a few times a day to be happy, and loved in return.
Since I do my own yard work now, I was outside and forgot for a few minutes that the garage door had been left open when I went into the house for a few minutes. This causes a breach in the security for my borzois. It was pure carelessness on my part that allowed this to happen. The last time I saw them, my borzois were on my bed in the bedroom asleep. I was just finishing a light lunch when a man who lives a block or so from my house rang my front door-bell. When I came to the door, he said my dog had been in his yard, and had killed the animal now at his feet. I looked down through the screen door, and saw a dead, red colored creature. I thought it was one of his cats, so I began to profusely apologize. He said it was not, it was a young fox! I assumed it was Jelly, and we went out together to find her. She was spotted right away in the neighbor’s yard next door, having not gone far, and was just taking a stroll through the yards of the neighboring properties. When we spotted “her”, we all called out to “her” and “‘she” sauntered over. However, to our extreme surprise and shock, it was NOT Jelly at all, it was Tresor! He knew how to sneak out of the house and get off the property, and once out, took himself on a hunting trip. I felt so proud of him, that he showed intelligence by not running away in the street, or going the half-mile south down the road to US Highway 22, or run a half-mile north into the Watching Reservation, and may never have come back. He wanted to get out, and he did it the smartest way possible, on a hunting trip close to home, and he brought me back his prize.
I also saw today on Facebook that Lucy, the great show bitch, who is the grand-daughter of our very own Majenkir bitch, “Mikhailya”, won a Group 1 placement at show in Kansas. She certainly gets around. Again, her handler looks like she is having the time of her life!
The week started badly, with many burning tears cried for the painful words I had to hear spoken about my Boy. The thought that people think ill of him disgusts me. He is a great borzoi and I take wonderful care of him. I care for him and Jelly to such a degree that you can call it devotion, and commitment. They are my lifeline now. I know they are not perfect, they are flawed, and probably nobody would ever want them but me, but they are mine to love absolutely and unconditionally. That is how they love me.
By late November, you can’t lie to yourself anymore and think that it is still summer or fall. Like being at the end of your life and your beauty is dimmed, you are not in the springtime of your youth and therefore not the first pick of the boys. The inevitable bitter cold with biting, raw winds bear down from wherever they come from as you try to go about your kennel work suddenly turning what once brought you joy in your beauty it into an unpleasant ugly chore. To make things even worse, Jelly sustained a bad injury on her forelegs by falling down hard on them while running off leash in the Watchung Reservation, making it necessary to go to an Emergency Vet nearby and the beginning of many visits to “Dr. Mary” for “bandage changes”, making it a very expensive injury from which to recover. The lacerations cut across her wrist joint and the challenge was to keep the wounds covered until they were healed to avoid osteomyelitis or “septic joint”. So, all of that has been happening, and after three weeks, there is still one wound wrapped although it is becoming noticeably smaller. I feel as if I live on Rt. 78, the long road I need to take to get to another road that takes me to Washington, NJ, where our regular vet office resides. I would not let another vet practice touch my borzois, as I learned the hard way from past experiences.
There has been much in the way of good news, too. I still see announcements on Facebook of Mikhailya’s great-grandson, “Vinto” wining Best in Show placements in Japan on a regular basis. How proud we all are of him. But not only of him, of his great dam, “Lucy”, who still does a lot of Best in Show winning here in the States, herself. The next very big show will be the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in February in New York City. That will be followed by the Borzoi Club of America National Specialty Show in Hunt Valley, Maryland, the week of May 10 – 17, 2017. I can only wait and wonder if Lucy’s owners will show her in these shows again. It is just hard to say, and I am not privy to this information. Perhaps they will bring “Vinto” back since he has done so well in Japan. If I were their owners, that is what I would do, but I am not.
I have been trying to keep my spirits up, but with the onset of the holiday season, it is very difficult. I have been reading more, in the historical biography area. I just finished the Ellie Bolles Ellison (2014) The True Mary Todd Lincoln, and want to read the Chernow biography of Hamilton fame, since I can’t afford to spend $1,000.00 on a Broadway ticket to see the play. It’s comical that this milestone has come about. I could say more about this in light of the outcome of the recent presidential election, but I demur. However, I digress. What I mean to say is, by reading it creates the illusion that I am in the company of others and it distracts me from the intense loneliness I feel. It appears that I am not anybody’s cup of tea. Watching the movies on Turner Classic Movies has the same effect. I think I will try to do more reading in the new year, or, it depends on what movie is playing. Perhaps I can be more selective.
The well being of Jelly and Tresor are all I can ask or expect. Nothing else really matters at this point, as long as I can rise each morning and do what I need to do every day. But I know all too well how alone I am and how much the responsibility for Jelly and Tresor weighs on me.
At this time, I can identify other areas that are critical and important, and I will be writing more about them in the year to come.
In particular, one area of interest that developed for me in 2016 and about which I have written before was the need for donkey rescue. I have begun to see more attention given to this cause throughout the year. Facebook has many groups with people who have a keen interest in this topic, and in recent months, the New York Times, reversing a long period of disappointment I have had in them, has taken up the topic with vigor. And as donkeys require awareness and assistance, so it goes for all equines, horses, large and small. I hope I can raise the level of awareness somewhat in Blyss Blog readers while still remaining true to the focal topic of this blog, the borzois of Blyss Kennels and challenges and joys I have living with them.
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. In spite of many sorrows, I have much to be thankful for. I hope you do, too.
Today, being on the other side of ten years of Opal’s death, I know more is expected of me. I can no longer lounge around feeling sorry for myself about this or about anything anymore. It is simply not appropriate. I am alive and well with much that I am responsible for. I require all of my energies to accomplish what is necessary for me to do. First of all, I have the responsibilities of caring for Jelly and Tresor by myself. With the separation from my boyfriend who no longer lives here, I am very aware that I carry this full weight. I had one serious accident in May when I broke my shoulder walking Tresor, however I am well aware that it could have been much worse. I know I cannot afford to have a repeat of anything like that again so I do things differently now. My ability to care for these borzois is of tantamount importance because nobody else wants them and they are my full responsibility. I will say however that I could return Jelly to her breeder but that would not be ideal for either Jelly or her. Moreover, Jelly is so happily adjusted to living with me and Tresor now that it would be so traumatic for all of us to make a change that it is no longer an option.
So many people live alone now, especially if it is not by choice, that this puts many pets and other farm animals at risk of abandonment in the event that something bad happens to their owner. There is currently no shortage of animal rescue and/or sanctuaries organizations throughout the world for animals such as dogs, cats, equines and other barnyard animals, not including the well known organizations such as the ASPCA, or Humane Society of the United States and P.E.T.A. I identify many of these lesser known organizations on my Facebook page (see: www.Facebook.com/Lorene.Connolly) some of which I support with regular donations. But my own borzois come first and foremost because they live with me and need me most of all. And so, they are my first priority. I recently realized that I prefer living in my relationship with them than reaching out to new friends when I recently had the opportunity to do so. In other words, I would rather be with them alone at home than with most people in the world if given the chance. It would be the same if I had donkeys. I know I would spend time during my day caring for them and just being there with them; grooming them, talking to them, massaging them telling them how much I love them. They would give me so much comfort in return, I know, in a way that is different than a borzoi, a kind of serenity. Perhaps that is sad to some, but for me it is not. I have learned about myself that I prefer it that way.
If any reader of my Blog or Facebook page wants more information about the horse, donkey, barnyard sanctuary information, or information about equines for your own interests and the excellent organizations that support them that I have data mined from Facebook and the internet, you are welcome to email me: Lorenecon@gmail.com. This is a serious international movement, with organizations on every continent. There are very professional, committed, devoted and serious people creating a safety network to improve the quality of life for animals that would otherwise suffer a cruel, slow death.
Today I live alone at Blyss Kennels with Jelly and Tresor, my two beloved borzois. I am grateful and overjoyed to have them, and want for nothing. Yet, inside my soul, I am aware of a hollow void the opposite of, let’s say something solid like flesh, but a space of a nothingness, where there should be human love. I embrace and kiss my beloved borzois every day, and am most grateful for them, for no person in my life comes up to their level in goodness and loyalty, and capacity for love. Everyone else falls short, fails, has an agenda and a reason for being there, like what is in it for them. However, I am never fooled.
I observe love that I lack in my friends and neighbors, or sometimes in a novel or a movie, or a play or an opera. So I know it exists. But it has never been real for me. And in spite of three marriages, I am lonelier than ever. It’s absence has made my life very difficult. I wonder if others feel that knawing pain of emptiness or is it something unique to me? I believe it is unique to me in the strange configuration of mental illness that I bear, altered by the medication I take that is supposed to make the pain go away. Somehow, it never does, but I don’t complain to my doctors. I don’t want them to think they are not helping me.
Sometimes, I find the kind of love that interests me in a novel, or a film, and I find it very compelling. I just watched, for example, the George Cukor masterpiece from 1933, Little Women, and was crushed under the weight of family love in the family depicted there, the March family of New England during the Civil War. Another film that encapsulates this concept perfectly is, the Norwegian immigrant family in, I remember Mama, a similar story, this time set in San Francisco, the parents of which find themselves etching out a living and raising their children, poor in resources, but like the March family, rich in family love. Then, in an arcane, mostly forgotten film I saw for the first time recently, made during the heyday of old Hollywood, this time taking place on the eve of the First World War in England, the War to End All Wars, is the enchanting Smilin’ Through, the ultimate love story dream come true, where the more horrible the war the stronger the love, it was enough to convince me that my life is hardly worth living without it.
I should mention a novel or another literary forms while I am thinking about it, I suppose, and so I shall. Anything written by Leo Tolstoy, but especially War and Peace, will certainly delineate the outcome of life lived in the absence of national stability or personal love, in life lived on the cusp of one of the Twentieth Centuries most significant events: The Russian Revolution. Another great observer of life’s most painful outcomes, in this case Russia after the aftermath of the Revolution and who leaves no subject unmentioned, the great Russian author and play wright, Anton Chekov. Through his character development portrayed in these works, he presents profiles again and again of the fatal intersection of this society on the individual. When you think he can wreak no further pain and havoc on his characters, he wrote his famous plays. There, he delineates the fatal effects the Russian Revolution had on the middle-class: professional, educated, land-owning nuclear families that seemingly survived but alas slowly crumble before your eyes, rotting from within from lack of love, and is so devastatingly painful to watch. Upon watching Three Sisters performed by an excellent professional theater group once, I almost had to exit the theater because I was afraid I would faint from shock. Then, there is the extremely arcane novel that deserves aggressive literary promotion more than anything that has seen print since the invention of the printing press after The Bible, The Transylvanian Trilogy, Vol. 1 – 111 by Miklos Banffy, the Tolstoy of Romania – Austria, published by Everyman’s Library, Alfred A. Knopf, 2013. This novel covers the interactions of family love and nationalism, what happens when they cataclysmically intersect and everything about life as you knew it disappears. Throughout the Trilogy, not only does this author introduce the most interesting characters ever to appear in print, he gives a step-by-step tutorial of How World War I Began, for anyone who did not know. For opera, one need only look no further than Francis Poulenc in Dialogues of theCarmelites when the most innocent citizens in the country are judged to be on the wrong side of the French Revolution and pay the highest price. You can never weep enough watching great films of aftermaths of revolutions, attending plays on this subject, reading these novels, or listen to this one of many operas. In truth, the lesson to be learned here is that everyone is alone in the end, if not dead or destroyed. If they ever had love, they did not have it at the end when they needed it most, or it failed to save them.
Without love, family love, romantic love or love of country at the core, there will be heartache and incredible psychological pain. If the love at the core was flawed or not present when it was needed at earlier phases of life, it can never be undone, you can’t go back to Start and have a second chance.
Today, I find myself in love with horses, dogs, and now donkeys, the most broken down, down-trodden of things, creatures most in need of rescue. And rescue I do. I think I save myself. With people and social situations, I migrate further and further away until I have finally become nearly invisible. Someday, I may disappear altogether. More and more time passes in between attending Church, and that is sad. And I have confessed elsewhere that I have lost all of my friends. I have some relationships, but they are few and far between. A boyfriend with whom I recently broke up with is one of my only friends, and my sister and a cousin are the others. I am sorry if I seem inordinately sad, I am not really any sadder than usual, it is just that I am more acutely aware that I am. I tell myself to be optimistic, that love is right around the corner! But am I being delusional, or is tomorrow another day?
And so it is, that I turn toward Jelly and Tresor with extra hugs tonight and wish them well. I am very much aware that for now at least, they are all I have.