Roz Terhune Was A Character & Other Notes of Past and Present

“There’s plenty of puppy left.” Roz Terhune dismissed my longing for a puppy and advised me to buy the 9-month-old L’Ombre. He already  knew more about obedience work than I did.

Roz spent her life among the doggie set.  In her era, the sport of conformation showing became a society enterprise. It was often supported by wealthy women who kept kennels, sometimes even employing a kennel master.

A breeder in the Midwest said the same thing — there’s still plenty of puppy left — as we discussed the difference between bonding with an older puppy and one you get so early, you are a replacement for  Mom.

A Working Girl Doesn’t Need a Puppy

Roz was right when she looked at me and said, “You’re a working girl. You don’t need a puppy.”

I came to agree with her some two decades later. I was still a working gal when I got a feisty two-month-old Airedale puppy. He was well-bred, smart as game-show contestant, friendly, and showed signs of aptitudes for scent and spatial problem solving.

I was ready for a Doberman even then.  I tried to tell my beloved, who was fixated on the Airedale, this was a hunting breed.  I shared anecdotes about hero Airedales cornering mountain lions.

It’s always a mistake to buy a breed because you like the way it looks. Appearance is no predictor of temperament. Stanleigh spent years rescuing sheep dogs who can be protectively snappish, because people watch Disney’s shaggy dog series and get the impression this is one big cuddle bug.

People Don’t Understand the Notion of Breed

The Doberman was bred on purpose for a purpose.

Roz Terhune bred Collies at one point, and she knew Dobermans.  She went around the country for FDR asking some of the best kennels to give up their dogs for the war effort inception of the Marines’ Devil Dogs unit.

I met her decades later, at the end of her life, when she was  dog editor for the News American where I was working as a feature writer.

A Generational Torch Was Passing

A Sunday dog breeder column was among those fading conventions of women’s news, a section  newspapers devoted to brides and engagements, club and society party news, advice columns, and news about prominent breeders and kennels. For the ladies, you understand.

The women’s movement was transforming some of these outdated notions. I was part of that new wave. Roz sat at a desk adjacent to mine when she came in once a week to write her dog column for the Sunday paper.

I didn’t know of her expertise with Dobermans nor her government war service until after she died when I wrote a commemorative obituary.

Sometimes she brought stale baked goods and insist I eat them. Sometimes I hid in the library from her chatter.

How I Ended up with a Doberman Pinscher

One night after finishing my day at the newspaper, I was mugged on my own front door steps in daylight hours.  I was dragged down 11 cement steps on my back.

I missed a lot of work for most of the next year.

When Roz asked why I’d been out and heard my story, she insisted I needed a dog for protection.

 

A Labrador, I suggested. She looked at me with something between scorn and amazement.

She  took my clueless self to an obedience training club at a high school in the suburbs. She leaned heavily on the arm of the photographer, a tall man who showed her the great respect.

There were at least 100 dogs on the floor, in four groups representing various levels of training.

“Go talk with that man over there,” she told me. “He breeds Labradors. Tell him what you want it for.”

Next Time, They’ll Take Your Dog, Too

The man chuckled. “Next time they’ll not only knock you down and take your purse, they’ll steal your dog, too.”

I reported back to Roz, seatedat the edge of the auditorium, cane between her knees. “That’s right.

You don’t need a dog that’s dumber than you are,”

she observed with satisfaction.  “You need a dog that’s smarter than you are.”

She was another a wise crone who mentored me without my knowing it. She introduced me to the world of Dobermans and dog training, and I want to spend some years now among the doggie people.

Thank you, Roz. Thank you, L’Ombre. Thank you, Linda Coggins, for breeding Martin-L’Ombre and his early first-rate training and your induction of me into features of the breed.

 

The Well: Transformation

Unknown artist, ([?sic] Hugh Hambleton), Hermes Leading Persephone out of the Underworld, undated, Yale Center for British Art.
The Well. 48.

Deep in the chthonic chaos of the mud at the bottom of The Well, transformation

Wilhelm writes, “The well is the symbol of that social structure which, evolved by [people] in meetings its most primitive needs, is independent of all political forms.”

Myth also meets the primitive needs of people to understand our lives. The well nurtures with its clean water. Yet our deeper selves know that it is in dark underworld of the mud that our deepest transformations happen.

In the most ancient of myths, Inanna travels to this world and is dismembered and then revived. The Greek version is the myth of bright Persephone’s annual reluctant journey to her husband, Hades, dour lord of this dark realm whilst her mother, Demeter, mourns. The goddess of agriculture and fruitfulness plunges the world into winter while she waits for her daughter, Spring, to return.

This is ancient and deep wisdom indeed, transcendent of social structures fulfilling humans’ deepest yearnings to understand our place in the Universe and the world. Only in the deepest chthonics depths are we renewed: Each of us in that Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, as Douglas Adams titled a book.

In nature, the example is the caterpillar that willingly dissolves itself into an oozing mass that resembles neither of its two states of being — to emerge as a butterfly. Nothing is the same in the two beings, except essential DNA mapping the universal patterns.

I have been silent long, because an oozing mass does not speak. That does not mean nothing is happening. Wait.

Dreams Don’t Die, Not Really

Despite my disappointment in January, I continued to plot, plan, scheme, and strategize how to achieve my goal of living with a well-trained, well-bred Doberman Pinscher.

Seeds grow in the darkness. They need the rest of night to germinate life.

Witches and magicians warn against revealing plans prematurely. Such disclosures invite malignant forces, naysaying, and may dissipate creative energy in unproductive spiels.

I have been making progress.

“You have fallen into a fit of despondency, and there is not the least need. In fact, it encourages one to believe that there is nothing to be done, when all that is wanted is a bit of resolve to bring matters to a happy conclusion.” — The Grand Sophy, by Georgette Heyer.

 

How A Dream Can Die

There is no hexagram for loss in the I Ching. The dao resolves the inevitable ebb and flow of creation — including life and our journeys through it.

The full moon in Cancer portended letting go.

Full Moon Chinese scroll painting
Tao Lengyue (Chinese, 1894–1985)
Full Moon, 20th century
China, NY Metropolitan Museum of Art,
http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/36322

It is now clear that I must accept I have probably lost a part-time income I enjoyed. The institution was acquired by an investment group. Even though I hold a terminal Ph.D. degree in my field and hold advanced certifications offered by the institution, I am now deemed unqualified to teach. In a shakedown — which I tellingly wrote as shamedown on my first effort — we are being asked to take courses from our employer to keep our jobs. Pay for play.

The Signs and Markers Pile Up

Without this income, I cannot retire from my adjunct teaching. I cannot afford a home with a yard and my Doberman Pinscher in this area and become active in the sport of training. I can’t afford one anywhere, for that matter. Not now.

Even if the job re-materializes, it points out the tenuous nature of my plan in these times when the social safety net is being shredded in Washington. Without Social Security and Medicare, my means of support are limited and fragile indeed. I must keep my current employment and pray that lasts!

I need to develop some additional income streams, probably by reviving another site about fashion I started in 2008.

Health Factors Warrant Consideration

In December, I experienced a flare of a stress-related illness sparked by the goings-on in Washington. I questioned whether I have the energy to train a large dog. With a yard, it is possible. The walking and activity with my companion dog will further healthful living and minimize such flares.

But the yard is not possible. Not right now anyway.

Some people urge me to get a doctor’s note to have a small therapy dog in my apartment. I like all dogs, but it would not be even close to go to this plan D.

First, I have found no small dog that equals the noble characteristics of a Doberman. A standard poodle is a close alternative. I had one in the past.

However delightful the poodle, it does have the breed characteristics of a Doberman. I doubt that even a small standard or moyen poodle would be accepted by the condo association.

Living in a third-floor apartment, I will not be able to let the dog out in the mornings while I have coffee and meditate. The texture of my days will change in a way that having a yard would not. I want the safety net of a yard for the dog and me.

Coping with the Cancer Full Moon and Loss

Tapestry old stage pursued by hounds
1500s Tapestry, S. Netherlands, NY Met Museum, Old Stag flees from pond pursued by hounds

The Cancer full moon (January 12) was widely interpreted in astrology as a watery condition and a time when we would be asked to foresake and forego.  I am sad to let go of this dream that has energized me for the past 10 months. I am bereft at the realization I may not be able to manifest this dream for years, if at all.

Opening the I Ching, Wilhelm translation at random, I am at the Taming Power of the Small, Hsaio Ch’u (9). Strong elements are held in check by the weak. We are told that we can only persuade a tyrant — and we certainly have that imminent — by small persuasive actions. “So also an individual, when [s]he can produce no great effect in the outer world, can do nothing except refine the expression of h[er] nature in small ways” (p. 41).

And so it is.

The < ahref=http://metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/468328?sortBy=Relevance&amp;ft=grief&amp;offset=40&amp;rpp=20&amp;pos=44″>New York Metropolitan Museum of Art</a> offers this poem with the image, which seems apt:

This tapestry illustrates a poem about human frailty, in which the stag represents Man. Here, Age and her hounds Heat, Grief, Heaviness, Cold, and Anxiety, drive the stag from a lake. A French inscription may be translated:

Then Old Age mounts an all-out assault
That drives him from the lake
And unleashes upon him Pain and Doubt,
Cold and Heat, and thus brings on
Care and Trouble to seize him.
And Age with wrinkled flesh
And Heaviness make him flee
Toward Sickness, the dreaded one.

 

K’un, The Receptive: An Epiphany

I don’t so much throw the I Ching anymore as look for a hexagram that resonates. I am an Earth sign, and a female, and it is the start of a new year. It seems appropriate to go to the beginning of the hexagrams to seek wisdom: K’un, the Creative, Hexagram Two.

A Magician Pen and Ink George Hayter
Sir George Hayter. c. 1826

I had many plans for the start of this year. I expected to be in a new home receptive for training my new Doberman Pinscher companion. The political dangers confronting our Republic militate against this.

I find myself receptive to new paths in life. All dreams and goals are on hold as I explore a total life change more total and sweeping than I dreamed a year ago.

I am exploring ways that I can support and participate in the Resistance to the current treasonous efforts overthrow to our institutions that are underway.

The Receptive Complements The Creative

The Creative, Hexagram One, associated with traditional so-called masculine energies, exists not as a duality with the Receptive but as a complementarity.

The Judgment in the Wilhelm translation of the I Ching specifies sublime success follows from guidance.

I, who have lived alone as a mystic and recluse for the past dozen years, am suddenly in the position of believing Resistance can be accomplished only in association with others.  This is a strange turn for what I foresaw as my future only a short time ago — a future I planned for most of last year.

Today also is the Feast of Epiphany. In the Roman Catholic tradition, we did not take down the Christmas tree and creche until this day. According to legend, this is when the Three Wise Men, or three magicians, reached Bethlehem to celebrate the birth of the Christ.

Epiphany and The Receptive

Epiphany is a sudden insight or revelation in common language.

An epiphany is more likely to happen if one is receptive. The Magi were receptive to the guidance of a star that shone brightly in the sky. The undertook a long and perilous journey with their gifts.

Mine usually occur after a long journey of research, meditation, and prayer. They are sudden only to the extent that once guidance blossoms, it is whole, complete, and redoubtable.

I am reading about Moveon.org, the New Jim Crow, the surveillance society, the encroachments of financial institutions into every area of our lives through debt and fees, and many dimensions of political and communication theory I abandoned after my research career was ended.

An epiphany is often only for part of my journey, perhaps only the next step to be taken. Then I must remain receptive to the next step and the one after that.

Best Wishes for Your Healthy and Happy New Year

I wish anyone who read this a happy and healthy year. May you be receptive to your own special guidance, and may your epiphanies show you the way forward.

Solstice: Hexagram 36 Darkening of the Light

The latest crinkle in my total life change Doberman Project is money. One of my required sources of income has been sold, and I’ve not been offered a contract for 2017. So I face a new challenge in this time of waiting and planning.

Looking for guidance from the dao using the I Ching, this dame turns to hexagram 36, Ming I, in the Wilhelm translation, darkening of the light.

Solstice has long been a time of wonder and miracles with customs that go back even before recorded time.

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The Dao of Standstill Is Gratitude

Waiting seems like standstill. It is uncomfortable for this old dame.

I started The Doberman Project eager to press forward with my tlotal Life change.  I was full of concrete plans and an end-of-year deadline to enact them.

Future Is Unknown and Unpredictable

Circumstances beyond my control have intervened in my retirement plans.

Indeed the whole world is waiting to see whether the USA plunges into fascism, or the president-elect sparks a nuclear holocaust, or if the world economy goes into a tailspin as a result of the nativist tendencies sweeping the world.

movie still from All Quiet on Western Front
From film All Quiet on the Western Front.

The antidote to standstill is gratitude.

Gratitude is the antidote for any ill that befalls us. In the smallest pleasures of life we find redemption.

It reminds me of the soldier’s hand stretching from the foxhole for the tiny singing bird in the great film All Quiet on the Western Front (novel by Erich Maria Remarque). This last act of remarking beauty and life becomes his death.

Hexagram 12: Standstill or Stagnation

The 12th hexagram, P’i, in the I Ching is Standstill or Stagnation. The powers of heaven and earth are out of balance and pulling away from each other.

P'i: Standstill or Stagnation

“The way of inferior people is in ascent; . . . But the superior people do not allow themselves to be turned from their principles. If the possibility of exerting influence is close to them, they nevertheless remain faithful to their principles and withdraw into seclusion.”

I have been even more reclusive than usual. Having a Doberman to train and exercise would do me a world of good. An intelligent Doberman Pinscher is a true companion dog, noble, watchful, and protective.

The notion of standstill and stagnation appears repulsive. Yet smelly things transform in stagnation; from compost come the best fruits, vegetables, and flower.

From Stagnation Comes Transformation

P’i, read in its entirety, is a hexagram of hope.

Man in prayer

Line Three states, in the Wilhelm translation, “Inferior people have risen to power illegitimately do not feel equal to the responsibility.”

Fifteen USA security agencies say Russia meddled in the US election that has put this ignorant narcissist into office.

“In their hearts they begin to be ashamed, although at first they do not show it outwardly. This marks a turn for the better.”

The final three lines promise, “First standstill, then good fortune.”

I have a comfortable apartment.  I am in good health.

I mostly enjoy my teaching job and the chance to be with my terrific, hard-w0rking, hopeful students. I can increase my savings for The Doberman Project, retirement, and my total life change.

A few close friends and family are a treasure.  All my needs are met, by the grace of the Dao. I give thanks.

The Dao of Despair and Hope

Rembrandt studio, woman walking to the left
Studio of Rembrandt van Rijn, Beggar Walking to the Left, Rosenwald Collection

The election of a racist, misogynist, narcissist as president has shaken to my core.

Knowing that one half my fellow Americans think it’s okay for a man who shamed a handicapped reporter from the stage to be president earns my contempt for them.

There is no place to run and hide. A wave of far-right narrowly nationalist fervor is sweeping the planet, from India to England.

When I started this blog, I was inspired with a sense of purpose and energy for how to spend my retirement: I would find a home with a yard appropriate for me and a Doberman. I would participate in training to the highest level of excellence possible for the animal and me.

A simple plan for a total life change.

Then, whoosh, despair for the future of our great Republic swamped me — despair that so many people choose to put illusions of self-benefit above civility, the Constitution, compassion, and the law.

One person suggested that I need therapy. I think not.

Swamplands of the Soul: New Life in Dismal Places (Studies in Jungian Psychology by Jungian Analysts)

“The ultimate purpose of psychotherapy is not so much the archaeology exploration of infantile sentiments as it is learning gradually and with much effort to accept your own limits and to carry the weight of suffering on our own shoulders for the rest of our lives. Psychological work, instead of providing liberation from the causes of serious discomfort, increases it, teaching the patient to become adult and, for the first time in [her] life actively face the feeling of being alone with [her] pain and abandoned by the world” in Swamplands of the Soul, Hollis, a Jungian, quoting Carotenuto (The Difficult Art), p. 15.

After a certain age — and a certain age (often posited as post-50) is barely a shadow in the rear view mirror of life — and a certain amount of counseling and spiritual seeking, therapy is only a way of escaping the difficult realization that I am all I have.Oddly, I find these ostensibly cheerless words comforting. I even find a glimmer of hope and renewed purpose in them.

Figure walking, from back, Vuillard
Edouard Vuillard, Walking Figure Seen from Behind, c. 1894, Gift of Benjamin and Lillian Hertzberg

“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

TS Eliot, Little Gidding, the last of The Four Quartets (http://www.coldbacon.com/poems/fq.html)

I was greatly influenced by The Quartets, a meditation on time, often as an undergraduate at New York University back in the days when Bob Dylan sightings at local cafes often turned out to be true. I listened to Eliot intone the words in a flat, gravely voice, on the now archaic invention of a long-playing album.

After decades of exploration, I cannot say that I know this place in life — despair — at all. I can say my current despair is a situational adjustment issue, as a therapist would frame it, and not the inner angst of youth that goaded my early consultations of this poem.

Woman working in garden, Pissarro
Camille Pissarro (French, 1830 – 1903 ), Woman Working in a Garden, Ailsa Mellon Bruce Collection

A Sufi notion suggests sometimes we are in the garden where life pleases us, and sometimes we are in the fire, where we are tested. Both are places where inner lessons may be learned.

TS Eliot reached the same idea in the final lines of The Quartets:

“And all shall be well and
All manner of thing shall be well
When the tongues of flames are in-folded
Into the crowned knot of fire
And the fire and the rose are one.”

In such stoic acceptance of reality, I find hope.

If It Isn’t One Damn Dream, It’s Another

I used to drink, rather a lot. A persistent fantasy during this time was that someday, after my newspaper career, I’d be a blowsy old barkeep.

Some alcoholic private eye would run his business out of my little hole-in-the-wall tavern.

Every once in a while, I might even get laid.

At age 40, I got clean and sober. It wasn’t a goal, and it wasn’t my idea of how to march into old age as a fabulous old dame.

Funny story: I may be the only person in the world who was blackmailed into treatment by her physician for overdosing on a nutritional supplement — L-Tryptophan.

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The Dao of Despair

My retirement plans are in shambles since the Election last Tuesday. My dreams and goals have become of little interest, like something from someone else’s life.

Change is always challenging for me to navigating.

Navigating the installation of a white supremacist in the White House is a change I find disgusting. I am not sure the Republic can survive this.

I researched many countries to which I might emigrate for many months this year as part of my retirement planning. There are places with large expatriate communities.

I am fond of my comforts in the USA. I don’t wish to die alone in a strange country.

It would be easier to move if I had a partner, be it lover or close friend, to negotiate such a thing.

I have an ongoing stomach ache, headache, and fatigue. All that seemed bright and shiny and full of hope when I started this blog is sucked dry of meaning.

The dao teaches us there are times of fullness and times when the tide goes out.

This Dame is grieving this repudiation of the values of my country.