Days in Rio de Janeiro

Some drivers threw away their car mufflers so that they sounded big and muscle-y. We were able to enjoy these booming roars at our address, a little old villa, Avenida Epitacio Pessoa, 864, night and day. Our home faced the lake Lagoa Freitas where pedal boats moved about calmly. And beyond the lake towered Corcovado, the Christ the Redeemer figure. Renato, on coming home from work, liked to look out to the statue and say he was getting his daily rental money’s worth.

We had Jeff, our Doberman pinscher, whose official name was Mongol de Leimar. Jeff always followed Renato upstairs where he shucked his office clothes and began their game, snapping his necktie at Jeff and going “Heeeyah!” and other such noises, which set Jeff to a high-pitched barking and scampering about. Jeff was a luvverly dog and if he didn’t perform so well in the dog show, as written up in “The Carioca Dobie Derby,” it was our fault, not his.

Those were good years, and my job at the American School of Rio de Janeiro enhanced them. I joined the American Little Theater where I produced a play and was cast in “Kiss Me Kate” as a courtier. My Brazilian tailor could not quite believe the tall conical headgear that went with my gown was not a joke, but he fabricated it. I don’t remember how I made it stay on my head.

Those were the days…..


Word from Rio on the Olympics

Rio de Janeiro was always, to me, a bustling, hustling city in love with their samba music and Carnaval. That was when the crowds turned out to celebrate with drums and sinuous, half-nude women for three days and nights. Renato and I mostly watched all of it on TV.

My friend Ana reports from Rio that the mayor has lost his mind while trying to prepare for the Olympics. He ordered all feral cats rounded up and killed, at the same time making ineffectual dabs at cleaning up the trash-filled surf at Copacabana Beach. Inflation has topped 200%; the poor, who lived on rice and beans, now eat only rice. Their president, Dilma Rousseff, has been impeached.

And now, Zika. Their mosquitos already transmitted Chagas disease, especially to animals.

I am so sorry, sorry, sorry.

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Cats are little hoomans

I think of Pinky, the tortoiseshell who lived next door and came around to visit every day and night for a month. Evenings, she called at the patio door until I let her in. I was puzzled, of course. Why me and not her own home? It became obvious then that the two noisy dogs there and the fact of the homeowners being out all day had much to do with her preference for my home.

I came to yearn for her company; she acted as though she belonged, and I wished she did. One night it was raining, and she hesitated at the door before going home for her supper. This was it! I opened a can of cat food I had kept on hand, and offered it to her. We both understood this was a turning point. Pinky packed up her belongings, in a manner of speaking, and moved in. How we enjoyed each other!

I wrote “Meow’s Way” starring Pinky and other cats and critters, including a little skunk who toddled in everyday to eat cat chow. The book won in the Animals Animals Animals Book Awards. The editor mentioned that my description of the game Pinky and I played (and which she invented) made him laugh so hard he had a coughing fit.

And, incidentally, Pinky’s sister, whom I named Loaner because I wasn’t sure she would stay, and brother Tango crossed over. Loaner is still with me. She is 13 years old now, and is big sister to 11-month-old Bijou, a little imp who loves the outdoors.

Saying that I miss Pinky is inadequate for how I really feel. She was special.


On the Yulin dog-eating festival

The hideous practice of eating dogs in Yulin, China, is still ongoing, but there is an increasing number of activists who will go again to the city to protest and rescue dogs. The Humane Society reports that about 300 dogs are killed each day in Yulin to supply the restaurants there, and during the festival, that number jumps.

Other Chinese are becoming aware, and because of outrage expressed by outsiders, several slaughterhouses have been closed. Humane Society Internal consultant Peter Li says “Every year it becomes smaller. And it is going to die–maybe in five years, maybe 10 years.”Vietnam

That isn’t soon enough for us who care. There is still Vietnam and Korea, where dogs are farmed for consumption. The HSI has given seed money to farmers in Korea to grow peppers and blueberries. All of these efforts will take time to abolish the culture of eating cats and dogs. The delay is unconscionable, and I ask this, that the social media can do a great deal to spread the word. Will you do this?


Cats are special hoomans

I returned from a five-day stay at the hospital and could not Wait to see Loaner and Bijou. As soon as I stepped into the house I called, and here they came to greet me. They were none the worse for wear without me but I think they missed me.
I couldn’t complete the course of treatment for Bijou’s right eye where a foxtail had found a home, but it looks alright to me. Foxtails are a regular menace to animals in the summer. They work into eyes, ears and noses.

So many things to do — copy machine out of order, DMV smog test due, one toilet tank broken inside. Sigh.

It’s Mojo at three months in the photo. He didn’t come home 11 months ago. Heartbreaking? Absolutely.

Lion, portrait of the king of beasts

Glen Campbell’s life in “I’ll Be Me”

Watching the unwinding of his life, I realized I had not appreciated enough his marvelous voice and talent. He had a TV show while I was living in Brazil, and I missed much by not being able to see it.

The progression of Alzeimher’s in this gracious man is depicted unflinchingly and at first I wondered why his family would expose him to such public view, and then I understood there was a poignance in sharing him with his multitude of admirers, giving them this last chance to see and enjoy him. And he still delivered magnificently on stage despite some faltering. The music is embedded in the man as it is in his guitar-plucking fingers.

His wife mostly recounts the documentary and she too maintains the honest tone of Glen’s story. His sons and daughter play in the band and there is an exhilarating riff of the two of them in a guitar/banjo duel.

Show biz as displayed here was a true treat.