About The Promise

….my article of the same title on http://www.authorsden.com/lucillebellucci: although Renato shrugged, because he could not speak while intubated, to indicate he could not know if he would be able to visit me as I asked. He left me in 1998, and did reach me in September of that year, as I recount in “The Promise”.

I saw him many times beginning in 2007 and each time he strove to give me messages using gestures. He announced his presence with his special whistle. Those visits gradually lessened until they stopped altogether, and he no longer whistles. I have not seen him in several years, seemingly because his connection with earth is becoming attenuated. Having no other, that is my theory. But he is with me in other ways. The dimmer light switch continues to be his conduit, the lights over the dining table continue to change places. Some time ago I unscrewed two of the five bulbs because all five were too bright. Apparently the slight contact remaining is sufficient for him to light the two bulbs.

And the garage door — As I press the button to close it, he will stop it partway several times. The pattern changes each time. I know he is saying Drive carefully, say hello, I love you.

On two occasions in the evening, Mojo my five-month-old kitten stopped in his play and stared into space, then went to hide under the table. He has yet to learn Renato is his friend, but he will come around. Mojo’s big sister Loaner is already on familiar terms with Renato and remains serene.

The comfort of knowing he is near and waits for me is immense.

Big elephant mother and small baby

Confucius Wept

Like many people who received a first online petition and responded by signing, I find myself now signing 10 or 20 per day and glad to do it, because the organizations report on which ones succeed. The outstanding issues of wolves being delisted continue, a situation exacerbated by hunting contests in Idaho of wolves and foxes. I can barely imagine that such a culture still exists in this country, but there it is. We are no longer living in the rough wildernesses of the 17th century. Haven’t they noticed this in Idaho? The comments I add to the petitions run something like this one:

“I am an immigrant from Italy, where every single wild creature has been obliterated.”

Italians get excited at seeing a squirrel when visiting here.

To make it simple, I omit mentioning my origins in China unless I am signing a petition to China’s ambassador to the United States on behalf of elephants, whose bloody teeth are bought as bangles and bracelets by wealthy Chinese. A strong comment I made on one of those petitions had to be deleted by the organization, so I modulated my tone on the next which was nevertheless cogent. I added a title to that one: Confucius Wept.

I read that animal advocacy is on the rise in China, a movement so powerless, so ineffectual in that enormous geographical sphere that I can’t foresee any measurable results for decades. Then I read a petition charging an Asian country with boiling dogs alive for their meat and almost wept with hopelessness.

Mojo at six weeks

The feline leukemia vaccination

Mojo had his feline leukemia vaccinations yesterday. The receptionist told me he might be a bit sleepy the next day, a remarkably evasive comment as I was to discover. This morning he was nowhere in sight, and Loaner had to perform the job of waking me up for breakfast. He was not to be seen for some minutes, until I spotted him doing the High Noon Walk that cats do when on their guard. I went to greet him and he answered with moans inside his throat. I picked him up and he objected strenuously, moaning some more.

He wouldn’t eat, and went to hide behind the basement door. Very worried by now, I decided to call the vet as soon as it was 8 a.m. Then I noticed that he moaned whenever I touched his lower abdomen and legs. I guessed, then, that the shots had him reacting. I went to the Internet to research the vaccine and to my horror read, beside the side effects he was experiencing, that sometimes a sarcoma might form at the site of the shot and to watch for lumps and that the shot was given on the leg so that it might be amputated if a sarcoma formed. That is what happened with my Pinky after her rabies shot. The sarcoma recurred again and again until it killed her. The vet told me that this happened once in 20,000 vaccinations.

And Mojo has to have booster shots in two weeks.

african owl hanging by a tree

The Humane Society of the United States

The HSUS invited me to their celebratory event at the San Francisco SPCA on Saturday, the main topic being Prop 2 that passed in favor of chickens. I went gladly. Wayne Pacelle, HSUS president and CEO of the HSUS, proved to be an engaging speaker. His career as animal advocate began at age 23 under Cleveland Amory, who founded Fund for Animals, whose arm Black Beauty runs animal sanctuaries in several states. One of Black Beauty’s proud accomplishments was the rescue of hundreds of burros from the Grand Canyon area.

Pacelle described his plans for the new year to stop abuse of farm animals and to improve their living conditions. He urged us to speak to store managers wherever eggs of battery-caged hens are sold. Releasing calves and pregnant pigs from their tight cages was his constant target. He hopes to start Meatless Mondays among millions of meat eaters. A vegan since the age of 19, fit and slim, he looks convincing for the practice. He took questions; there were comments about the recently lifted ban on serving foie gras in California. They were mild, considering how we all felt about this. I cannot eradicate from my mind a TV video I saw of a goose, its head hanging over a bar on the assembly line, because it was too sick to raise it.

In an adjoining room some rescued chickens pecked peacefully in their roomy enclosure while most of their numbers were being adopted.

As often happens among like-minded people, it was a simple matter to speak to each other without prior introduction. We were all there for the same reasons.


The writer Rosemary Sutcliff

I did not know her writing until I picked up “Blood and Sand” at my hairdresser’s. Angelo’s runs an informal library where patrons circulate their own books. I have sampled a variety of writings I wouldn’t have ordinarily selected at the public library.

Sutcliff is best known for her children’s books but this, her adult novel, impressed me tremendously. Through it I learned of the tribal wars in 1805 Egypt, that the Viceroy in Cairo was Albanian, that Albanian adventurers and mercenaries flocked to Egypt and mixed it up with the Ottoman Empire, Bedouins, Saudi Arabians, and all faced off with the Wahabis, precursors of the ISIS militants plaguing the Mideast today. Thomas Keith, a Scotsman who converted to Islam, rose in the ranks to become governor of Medina, the second most holy site after Mecca.

The scenarios of desert conflict are worthy, it seems to me, of high praise, with their stretches of stunning heat and dependence on the precious annual rainfall. Parched is an inadequate word for the land.

I have one reservation, that of the descriptions of the thousands of camels and horses used in the back-and-forth surges of the armies. I cannot begin to imagine how they were being fed and watered. There is frequent mention of the men’s reliance on the turgid quality of water in their bottles, but what of the animals? How in the world did they get watered and fed, as well? How to grow or transport their fodder? Presuming these campaigns are all factual — and they must be, because recorded history has them so — how were the animals sustained?

Still, I look forward to finding and reading Sutcliffe’s other novels.

The Snake Woman of Ipanema

OI! Brazil and CIAO! Italy!

I am quite overcome by a report from WordPress that most of my followers are in Brazil. Are you members of the American/British overseas community? But of course you are, now using the Internet, as I did not back then, to increase your range. This fills me with saudade. I too was busy as one of you, deep into the American The Little Theater and hobnobbing with the British Players in Rio de Janeiro. I sang in recitals, sold Italian jewelry at home, ate marvelous meals at our favorite churrascaria at Posto 6. The only activity lacking was research resources for writing. There was only the IBEU — Istituto Brasil Estado Unidos — which offered a mixed bag of reading material that tried its best to entertain hopeful readers but was too erratic to be much help to my writing ambitions.

I found a private library, however, owned by a British lady named Faith Motley, who became my friend. Through her I more or less kept up with what was being published in the world. But still nothing in the way of research.

How is our old street, Epitacio Pessoa in Ipanema? I even miss the annual fish die-off in the Lagoa Rodrigo Freitas in front of our home. And the neighborhood of Leblon? Next best known to me was Curitiba in Paranå, a town where the winters in September froze my nose off. Renato and I had Toto there, a mutt that came with our rented house. I wrote stories about him afterward. What a boulevardier he was! A one-eyed gentleman who belonged to everyone in the neighborhood.

And now, Italy. I departed in 1956 and returned twice, 1989 and 2001, feeling more and more strange each time. I wasn’t poor anymore, and the men didn’t accost me in the streets murmuring words purporting to do something to me. Being old sometimes has its benefits, although I did miss the complimentary comments. I was with Renato the second time in 1989, and with friends the last time. But I told Renato everything about the trip when I came home to California. He is here, his spirit contacting me every day and every night. He flashes the light dimmer, sends my adult pussycat Loaner to cuddle me in the middle of the night, shifts the lights over the dining table (see “The Promise” at my website http://www.authorsden.com/lucillebellucci), plays with the garage door when I am attempting to close it. On Christmas day he kept stopping and returning it upward five or six times. I know what he was saying: Drive carefully, I love you, give everyone my love. I did relay his message to my nephew and family and they were pleased. They would have thought of me as their nutty Aunt Lucy had they not seen Renato in a restaurant near their table. The whole family remarked on it, and then he was gone from sight.

Happy New Year, everyone!

The Basket

Mojo, first baseman

The little guy has taken to bringing me his purple fluff ball for us to play with. He arrives purring like crazy around the fluff in his mouth, puts it down in front of me and looks at me expectantly. Of course I deliver, toss it somewhere and he is gone after it. Back again to me, he waits again. I try a fly ball this time and by gosh he snatches it out of the air.

We go on like this for a while, often around my abandoned breakfast, and of course the ball lands in my tea. No doubt this improves the flavor of the tea and I drink it without qualm. Think of it as a hundred different kinds of immunization shots from wherever the fluff ball has been. All the germs will be fighting each other to bring me down but they will succeed only in killing each other. If Mojo isn’t fazed by them, neither will I be.

And so, Loaner, Mojo, and Renato and I celebrate this day and wish everyone in the whole wide world a similar warm happy one. I know this is disingenuous given the fractured lives of millions of unfortunates, but one keeps wishing them well nevertheless.