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  • Stone cold half baked dog

    Posted on January 6th, 2010 Sheila Yair 35 comments

    pitFriday, 6:30pm, Rosh Pina

    It is the evening of the day, Friday in Israel has a special feeling to it. Everything seems to embrace a certain calm, businesses are closed, the streets seem sleepy with only few pedestrians treading their weary surface, families conjugate in their houses, people reading the weekend newspapers on their porches and smells of intricately prepared meals abound the air which also seems to take its rest. Time itself seems to pause for a break. The hectic week has come to an end, the general pace has slowed down dramatically and all seems peaceful (a very rare notion in the Middle East). I just got back from visiting our neighbor who gave birth to twins last week. She is overwhelmed and seems a little lost amongst the two fragile creatures. Although she must weight more than ten times their combined weight and be at least 5 times their height they definitely have the upper hand. They are in absolute control, sending her to and fro and seem to be wearing her out easily with their two hour cycle of eating, sleeping and filling their dippers. I leave her with a home baked loaf of bread and some words of encouragement. Sheila and I will come to help periodically.

    As I enter the house two out of three dogs come to greet me. It is half greet half investigation whether there are any possibilities of treats being given. After a quick hello and affirming there is no scent of anything appetizing on me they run back to my mom’s room to jump on her bed. I fallow them. My sister Sarah is here for the weekend and sitting with my mom. There I discover that the third dog, Pita, is not feeling well. He didn’t get up for his dinner and is shivering constantly. Now the three of them are small dogs and small dogs get hungry fast. Usually two hours before their dinner they are already hovering around their dishes implying that they are fully ready to be served. When they finally hear somebody open the dog-food bag there is jumping and yapping galore. So if Pita, instead of jumping up and down, didn’t get up for his dinner that is a bad sign. He is shivering and seems to be out of it. His reactions are slow and his eyes convey a pathetic expression. Now Pita is a manipulator, he is a small dog and his main weapon is pity, he will lie low giving you a sad look with his big round eyes. His cuteness like a snake bite paralyzes you, forcing you to give him a pat, a treat or some special attention. But I have never seen him quite like this. He is 100% heartbreak with none of his usual conniving mischief. His eyes read total helplessness and fear. My mom and Sarah say he has been very quiet the whole afternoon but he didn’t really seem to sick up till now. We give him a piece of cheese which he gobbles up, that’s a good sign. But when we stand him up he can barely walk. He has difficulty controlling his little limbs, which is usually the first sign of poisoning. Many poisons used on dogs attack their nerve system. He is starting to close his eyes and not respond to his name. We wrap him up in a blanket and jump in the car. My dad calls the vet. It is Friday night and people are extremely hard to reach as this is the one night the whole family gets together for their family Shabbat dinner. He leaves a message. We are all nervous scanning for veterinarian numbers. The vet’s wife calls back, she puts her husband on the line. We describe the situation and he tells us to meet him in his clinic in 10 minutes. Pita is looking more miserable by the minute. We weigh him, he is 5 and a half kilos. He is very scared and seems totally out of it now, he just looks up at us looking for some explanation to his condition. His heart is pounding fast and his pupils don’t react to the light the vet is flashing at him. He says it doesn’t seem like a poisoning, but the eyes not responding are a definite indication something is very wrong. He gives him something to make him vomit. Pita screams when the needle enters his body. He is very sensitive to people touching him and I can only imagine this is even truer for a syringe. I hold him tight and try to comfort him. I speak in English as I can’t quite bark the words of relief, hoping he will at least understand the tone. He is sliding on the table and can’t even stand up. I have to pick him up when he starts to vomit. Out comes the cheese, I promise him more of that if he pulls through. He vomits a few more times but nothing comes out. There are only two black grains the size of sand. The vet says that might be a very dangerous poison and if there are only two grains left it has all been absorbed in his body. We try to recreate his day, thinking of all the places his been to. The vet asks questions as he flips through a poison reference book. I keep talking to Pita to keep him conscious. My hope is directly connected and synchronized with his eye lids. When they start closing my hope starts fading, when they open it is back. I realize how much I love these 5 and a half kilos. He gets a few more shots each one causing him great pain. The vet also attaches an infusion to get some liquids in along with vitamins and amino acid. Pita’s eyes are so dim and full of fear and pain I find it hard to stand up myself. I look into his non-responsive eyes and beg him to survive. I keep talking to him. At one point my sister and I call him together and he gives us back a weak tail wag. It might have been the smallest tail wag in dog history but it was so sincere. We are both on the verge of crying. I promise him meat, cheeses and breads, only get up and bounce around again. The vet says there is not much more he can do. He gave him the maximum dosages and now we can only wait. He says Pita is in critical condition and if he makes it through the night we can inject some more medicine in him tomorrow. He is very cautious with his words and tells us the situation doesn’t look good. We take him back home. We prepare a basket with a sleeping bag and pillows and situate him by the heater. He lays there motionless but his eyes are open. We are all looking at him patting him trying to comfort him. The other two dogs don’t pay much attention to him, they seem more interested in the food that is being eaten. After dinner we give some scraps to the other two dogs and out of the basket Pita comes out. Like the sphinx he raises again. He barely walks and maneuvers himself as if he was drunk, but he is more dog than pillow and we are all so happy. He walks around a bit and we put him back in his little nest. His face and eyes are looking a lot better, he is more receptive and his tongue is red again instead of the lifeless blue it was. We are all grateful but we keep in mind it is still a critical night and he has to pull through it. We give him some water to wet his mouth and tuck him to bed. He makes it through the night and wakes up 95% Pita. A little fuzzy but the cute little dog he always was. I immediately give him some nice pieces of chicken and cheese, a promise is a promise and I have wished for this moment, being able to feed him again.

    But let’s go back a little…

    Friday, 2:00pm, Rosh Pina

    It has been a long day at the bakery and we got home a little late. Fridays are always crazy at the bakery but usually around 10:30 we are done. We get home only around noon today. We have some good bread to compensate for the longer day. If our breads come out good nothing else matters, we take everything else in stride. If the yeast rose and the crust baked to a golden brown nothing can bring us down. We measure our days at the bakery only by the loaves we pull out of the ovens. A direct correlation between our mood and the bread. Two steaming crispy loafs of rye bread with caraway seeds make us very cheerful. After we slice one piece and eat it down with a little butter and a lot of pleasure Sheila starts baking her special cookies. We make my mom marijuana cookies to ease her nausea and give her some appetite. It seems to work better than the smoking. We simmer the pot in butter and water and then let it stay in the fridge overnight to separate from the water. We then use the butter, which by this time is dark green, in the cookies. I strain the butter out and give it to Sheila. She bakes the cookies and we get ready to leave to see my neighbor. She has just given birth to twins and seems overwhelmed. We take a loaf of bread for her. It is a sunny day and the dogs are napping outside on the deck. I throw the very green pot water on the flower pots. Pita gets up from his sunbathing poison to check what I am doing. I figure none of the dogs will mess with the leftover liquid and it can’t hurt the plant, what’s the worst thing that can happen, the plant will get high? That’s exactly what we want plants to do. We head off as the evening is setting upon us and everything slows down here on Friday evenings…

  • Eroticism and the worst email ever

    Posted on January 3rd, 2010 Sheila Yair 1 comment

    kajurahuWe are in Khajuraho, a city famous for its temples. Like many Hindi temples across India the shrines of Khajuraho are covered top to bottom with very detailed and fine stone carvings. Artistic as well as religious façades of statues upon statues, some easily considered a masterpiece on their own. The height of Hindi spirituality takes shape in the cold hard rock. The difference between Khajuraho and many other cities hosting Hindi temples is that all the temples here are dedicated to eroticism, to the activity of sexual union, not necessarily in the smallest even number, as proper conservative sex will dictate, sometimes not in even numbers at all. A collage of bodies in different positions all very busy with their reproductive organs. No one really knows what caused the Chandella dynasty to build such blunt temples. Some theories claim it was due to links with the Tantric cult, who used sex as a fundamental part of worship. Some suggest it was in honor of Shiva and Parvati’s wedding. Others claim it was like the Kama Sutra a guide to love. Still others claim it was to amuse the gods and distract their wrath and some even claim it is symmetrically built to depict yantras for meditation (not speaking from experience, but something tells me it is a little hard to meditate while an orgy is going on around you). Out of the many theories in existent that try to explain these unique temples none blame the British. In fact when they were rediscovered by a proper officer of Queen Victoria’s army in 1838, after they have been abandoned for six hundred years, the blunt carved scenes of masturbation, threesomes, foursomes, coupling with animals etc. shocked him so much he made this comment:

    “I found seven Hindu temples, most beautifully and exquisitely carved as to workmanship, but the sculptor had at times allowed his subject to grow a little warmer then there was any absolute necessity for doing; indeed some of the sculptures here were extremely indecent and offensive”

    Definitely scenes a little warmer than anything an honorable officer has ever laid his eyes upon, or anything he would have expected to encounter in an abandoned place of worship hidden in the jungle. But as shocked as this poor officer has been, eroticism, in different forms, has been with humanity since the beginning, or at least nine months before the first human baby was born. Although at certain times certain societies and cultures tried to deny it or restrain it, there was always a quest for bodily union. Humans were always engrossed with the beauty of people physically matching, the ecstasy of a higher sexual encounter, the physical obsession of one person with another in a climax of desire. Many tales, operas, paintings and plays have been composed by people throughout the ages, with eroticism crawling through each and every sentence, note or brush stroke propelling the plot and capturing the audience’s imagination. All the famous couples, Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Paris and Helen, Catherine and Heathcliff, we like to think of these as tales of love, which they were, but they were all tales of love at first sight too. And well the last word in the phrase says it all, sight. Love at first sight means we are yet to know anything about our object of desire but are madly in love due to appearance, body, face, composition, eroticism at its best, one transmission of the optic nerve, a few neurons passing a small and sexy electrical current and the brain is full of lustful yearning ready to go to war, give up anything, accept any challenge or even die. But our officer was a bit sheepish not because the theme was unfamiliar, it was the bursting power of the sexuality of the temples he wasn’t use to. In England eroticism was served in much smaller doses. We have created a spectrum in physical inter person relations, a scale for sex, something to help us categories the different aspects of sexual activities. Like everything in society we tied that scale to moral and proper conduct. Pornography, peep shows, prostitution are all way at the bottom considered immoral, dirty and bad while love at first sight, eroticism, true love, and the inevitable result pregnancy are at the top regarded with opposite notions, pure and beautiful. England in those days had most of what was depicted in the temples on the low levels of the moral scale. Religion makes it even simpler. There is no scale, only right and wrong, proper and prohibited. With its constant desire to grow in numbers, any sex that leads to a new born baby within a structure that will assure him or her acquiring that specific religion as he grows up, is good, basically any child born to a family. But all other sexual activity is bad, sex out of wedlock, gay sex, Hindi temple orgies etc. It is amazing how many very different religions operate the same concept. It is not for nothing that in the midst of the AIDS crisis the Pope calls for the abolishment of condoms in Africa, the continent with the highest catholic conversion rate. Even the spiritual Dalai Lama maneuvers his religion to greater numbers. In a speech of his that we heard up in Ladakh he was talking about reproduction. The English translation warned how due to environmental changes and global warming we have to depopulate the planet but the Ladakhi translation declared that Buddhism is frail and needs more people so procreation is of the utmost importance.

    But eroticism, desire, love, orgasm are all tricks that nature plays on us to ensure we keep the species going, to make certain we keep producing offspring. Deceptions pushing us to supply more specimens for evolution and more players for the survival game. And it works, even the most rigid society, the strictest and most reserved religion always kept the door a little open on procreation. There was always a hole in the sheet, a key to the chastity belt to let just enough eroticism through to keep the species alive. So nature with its schemes keeps the cycle of life rolling.

    Nature embedded us with very basic natural instincts, fundamental needs, but as always our intellect seeps in, drop by drop creating an ocean of man made social structures. The only difference between a lion eating a zebra and a fancy five course meal is our intellect, our minds, our society, our drive and development prepare the food with great care mixing ingredients from around the planet then heat or cool them in many different ways to get different chemical reactions and tastes to satisfy our discriminating pallet, we then serve and eat it among rituals our society dictates, but the basics are still a lion eating a zebra. We have built the same creative, intellectual, ritual world around procreation with love, marriage, dating rules, etc. turning the zebra to a five course meal. That is what built the temples in Khajuraho, the human five course meal version of the cycle of life. And wherever there is intellect, money is sure to follow. Big industries like the wedding industry, the dating industry, romantic movies, pornography, and escort services all have nature’s imbedded instinct for procreation reeling in the customers. If prostitution is the oldest trade, marriage and dating have to be right after it as the second oldest business. From fathers wheeling and dealing their kids, matching them up to increase stature and fortune and to tie new ties, to the multi-million dollar wedding industry of 7 story cakes and expensive dresses and the sprawling dating industry in all its forms. This is one basic instinct we have taken very far.

    And so here amongst the temples that celebrate in stone the life cycle, with scenes warmer then there is any absolute necessity, here I get an email from my mom telling me she is dying. It is all cycles in nature, there is no life without death, there must always be a balance. I have always believed in that. But now to come to terms with it is to understand and accept I will be a motherless child soon. Something that even approaching forty years of age is hard to do. I walked directionless for two hours between trees and tears just to swallow the news. Now that it is in me I have to start grasping it.

    The ironies in these natural cycles are sometimes mind-boggling. The ovaries where I have started my life have also started the cancer that is now killing my mom. The same organ that has initiated my life commenced the killer that is inside my mom, ending her life. Much like the cancer I too started multiplying my cells using my host’s body for food and shelter, but I didn’t metastasize and after a while when I felt I was too big I came out, something that unfortunately I know the cancer won’t do.

    Nature, life and death.