Jill, the biker chick

So . . . Jill comes home the other day and says she wants to start riding her bicycle to school. Apparently, she read an article in Sinclair Community College’s student newspaper, The Clarion, about a couple of Sinclair professors, Kathleen Gish and Mike Canestaro, who are bicycle commuters. (The article was actually about the annual presentation the two give discussing the benefits of commuting by bicycle.)  Even though Jill had missed the presentation, she seemed super excited.

The first thing I thought was, “That’s great. She’ll be reducing our carbon footprint.” It is, of course, a great idea: save the planet while getting exercise and fresh air. The only problem was she did not have a bicycle. I figured we would do some research and then eventually find her a nice bike.

Yesterday, Jill asked me if I would go look at bicycles with her. It kind of surprised me that she wanted to pull the trigger on this so quickly. I wondered whether she had really thought this through. However, being the supportive boyfriend I am, I hopped online and quickly did some basic bicycle research, just so I could have a clue what we should be looking for.

When we arrived at Kettering Bike Shop, Jill already had some idea of what she wanted. The red-headed pixie who helped us seemed knowledgeable and was genuinely friendly. Jill was not looking to spend a lot of money, and, between the two of them, they quickly found just the right bike. Add on a few accessories to make carrying a stack of school books easy and the commute both practical and safe, and we actually got out of there with our arms and legs intact.

Jill was so “gung ho” about her life-style changing decision that she planned on riding her new bicycle to school the very next day. Of course, riding down that big hill from Oakwood to downtown Dayton was going to be the easy part.  It is about a five-mile trip, and when her classes are over, she will be facing that same big hill . . . going up.

Don’t get me wrong; Jill is in excellent shape. She runs five miles or so a couple of times a week, and we just ran in the Oakwood “That Day in May” 10K this weekend. Last fall, Jill ran a half marathon almost on the spur of the moment, without a serious training period. There was no question she could do it, but that hill looks really daunting to me.

This morning (after running five miles with our youngest dog, Celeste),  Jill was excited to head out to her Tuesday class. Still, I think she was a little nervous; I know I was. About a half hour after she left, I received a text from her: “That was fantastic! Put hedge clippers on the white board.” I was glad she had made it but thought, “We already have hedge clippers.”

When she got home this afternoon, Jill was juiced.  It did not take her much longer coming than it did going. Apparently, the hill was tough but not too tough. She said her butt was on fire. Of course, I had to agree. (She loves my little innuendos.) She really did look radiant.

She’s thinking she will even ride her bike to school in the rain. Yes, Jill likes to venture outside her comfort zone. “Who cares about the environment or your health? It’s a lot of fun.” That is practically the same thing Ms. Gish had said in the newspaper article.

Now, after we cooked and consumed one of our favorite meals, “Yummy Kale,” Jill is relaxing in a well-deserved bubble bath. She has found herself yet another way to enjoy life . . . and I am living with a biker chick. That makes me happy too.

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Elk stuns zookeepers . . .

The headline reads “Elk Stuns Idaho zookeepers.” The massive beast did this by saving a tiny marmot from drowning. Stuns? Really?

Some people seem to think the idea of an animal reaching out to help another animal, especially one of a different species, is pretty amazing. I disagree completely.

Examples of animal-to-animal kindness abound. From a dog nursing piglets in a communist country to a dog rescuing a bag of kittens abandoned on a freeway, and many other selfless acts in between, animals show compassion for their fellow creatures all the time. Us humans could stand to follow these examples.

There is absolutely no reason why we should not be able to treat other people, even those people who are different than us, with kindness. If it’s good enough for our four-legged friends, it should be good enough for us.

I am proud to be an animal . . . and I hope to always behave like one.

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Sweet Wilbur

I thought I was done with crusades. Seriously, I’ve done my share of crusading, often involving lost causes . . . or causes that were just plain thankless.

I don’t know whether it’s the recent loss of our four-year-old bundle of bouncing joy, Wrigley, or that I simply can’t deny who I am, but when my girlfriend, Jill, told me about her childhood friend and what she was doing for (and sacrificing for) a sweet, week-old colt, I had the urge to do something.

It has been too difficult for me to write about losing Jill’s precious dog, Wrigley, although I’ve tried. (And, of course, there was that could be done for him. His illness took him so fast.)  So, I’ll take this opportunity to write briefly about a cause that seems to have some some hope . . . and an awesome champion.

Jill’s friend, who owns Texas Livestock Rentals, has taken in Wilbur, whose mother died giving birth to him due to being undernourished and in poor health generally. Despite the inevitable financial and emotional burden, Texas Livestock Rental adopted this precious and helpless orphan, who is in need of surgery and long-term medical care.

Sometimes, it is the least fortunate who have the gift of bringing joy to others. (Just watch the videos!) For me, Wilbur’s story is extremely compelling:

“On October 25th Wilbur’s mother was dropped off at the local auction to be sold. She was skinny, poor and unbeknownst to anyone at the auction, pregnant.

The next morning the auction barn employees found that Wilburs mother had given birth but had since died.

Wilbur was all alone.” –posted November 6, 2011 by taylorelise84.

I know this is not everyone’s forte, but Lisee Smalley has risen to the challenge, and I am proud to know someone who knows her. I am proud to lend my voice to this cry in the dark.

Those of you who feel like Lisee, Jill, and I can help by donating via Saving Wilbur and/or by passing this story on to your friends and spreading the word.

Wilbur is receiving veterinarian treatment at Waller Equine Hospital.  The cost of services can be verified by contacting them.

Go, Lisee! You rock! . . . and go sweet Wilbur!

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The passing of Whale Sound … and beyond

I was a late-comer to the audio poetry journal Whale Sound, having only been introduced to it mere months before it closed. Nevertheless, I was immediately drawn to the strong, yet gentle, and almost haunting voice of the editor and primary reader, Nic Sebastian.

For those who never had a chance to follow Whale Sound on a regular basis, I would recommend taking time to listen to the “Top 20 Whale Sound posts.” Standing alone, it is a wonderful collection of poems, and it is a perfect review of what was an amazing project.

Of course, we need not mourn the passing of this very special journal. Thankfully, Ms. Sebastian, and her distinct voice, continues to be an online presence. She has a new project and home for her love of poetry. While Whale Sound was dedicated to contemporary poets and new poems, pizzicato of hosanna focuses her voice on the poetry of deceased poets. She recites these poems wonderfully in English, Spanish, French and Italian.

In addition, Ms. Sebastian continues her poetry blog, Very Like A Whale, where she has been experimenting with and posting video and visual renditions of poetry. (One thing I especially love about Nic’s audio and visual presentations is that she provides links to the poems’ text. I get so much more from the presentation when I can see the poem’s form and read along.)

The world of online poetry has much to be thankful for . . . starting with Nic Sebastian.

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Julie’s poems

I am thrilled to announce that my friend, Julie L. Moore, has three poems in the Summer/Fall 2011 issue (volume V, issue 2 ) of the online journal Poemeleon.

In addition, her poem “Voice” appears in Issue 17 of the global poetry journal Switched-on Gutenberg.

Julie is the Writing Center Director and an associate professor of English at Cedarville University. She is a wonderful poet, and I’m so happy to be able to give her a shout-out and plug on her poetry my new blog.

Her book of poems, Slipping Out of Bloom, was published by WordTech Editions in April 2010.

Like butter, she’s on a roll.

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“Prayer for My Unborn . . .”

Yesterday, I was catching up on reading the Poem-a-Day poems from the Academy of American Poets that have been stacking up in my e-mail box. (I am still almost a week behind.) What I really love about Poem-a-Day is the variety of poems selected and that it introduces me to poets of whom I had not heard.

The poem for October 5th was “Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew” by Ross Gay. On this particular read, not only was I not disappointed, I was lifted forward in my seat and found myself reading aloud with surprising force. It is a powerful poem, filled with images of life’s cruelest tribulations (war, in particular) and ultimately of hope.

Mr. Gay is the author of two collections of poetry and teaches at Indiana University and at New England College. His second book, Bringing the Shovel Down, was published in January 2011 by University of Pittsburgh Press.

Of course, I probably should have expected to receive something moving. Last week’s Poem-a-Day poems were selected by Academy of American Poets chancellor Gerald Stern, whose poetry I have loved since he visited the University of Houston and I heard him read from his book, Leaving Another Kingdom, in the fall of 1990.

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Hello world!

That’s right. I’m starting a brand new blog.

I will use this blog to give shout-outs to other writers, post brief reviews of poetry I come across online, and comment generally on other things that go on around this oh-so-strange world in which we live.

First, I’d like to give a shout-out to my previous blog spot, eric’s anecdotes, etc.  Hoo-rah! I will probably continue to post my poems there as new ones are published.

Thanks for stopping by. And thanks to all my previous readers.

Wish me luck.

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