Sunday, December 20, 2009

Goodbye, Joy

Joy is the dog we used to have in joint custody.

A year or so ago we noticed that she was getting really skinny. A slender dog by nature, it didn’t take much for her hipbones to stick out. I talked with her owners about it, and they said they had noticed too and were trying to feed her more often.

Luca and I got in the habit of giving her an extra meal whenever we walked her. We worried that things had gotten too busy in her home and (wrongly) suspected that they were sometimes forgetting to fill her dish.

Despite her rib cage showing, Joy was always incredibly happy and bouncy. Even at four she acted like a 6-month-old puppy. Which is why we never thought she could be sick.

We then found out that she had a kidney problem that she had been born with, and that she didn’t have very long to live. While heartbroken, we took comfort in the fact that she had an amazing life.

Joy was finally put down this week. No more tearing across the mountains at the speed of light. No more jumping out of her skin with excitement at the sight of us.

I’m sure glad I got to meet her and be her friend.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

The banana

I’m reading a book by Dan Koeppel that is so fascinating, I cannot help but regularly interrupt my husband’s reading to share excerpts with him.

The book is about bananas, and you just have to read it.

A banana tree is not a tree, it’s an herb. The banana you eat today is not the banana your grandmother ate when she was little, because that banana was destroyed by blight and another type of banana was created to replace it.

Bananas are seedless. They are sexless. They cannot reproduce without humans. They all look the same because you are eating genetic twin (a clone) of a banana. Bananas are particularly susceptible to disease because what makes one banana sick wipes out all bananas, and the banana you know and love is at risk of ceasing to exist.

Americans eat more bananas than apples and oranges combined. And, bananas cost less, despite the fact they are grown in tropical countries and shipped across oceans and apples are grown within hours of most large cities in the United States. You have no idea the amount of things that have gone into making this possible. I have no idea why this question (how is this possible?) didn't occur to me before.

For bananas, jungles and rain forests have been cleared and governments have been toppled. They have transformed cultures. And, it’s very likely that the banana was the forbidden fruit Eve could not resist.

I will never again take for granted anything in my fruit bowl.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Resolution for 2010

Kindle is a modern day Trojan Horse – disguised as a reading device for book lovers, it’s really a buying device for book addicts. The pull is impossible to resist.

I walk into a bookstore, say, at the airport, look at books that intrigue me and download samples as I walk around. I get on the plane and read them; deleting the ones I don’t want, keeping the ones I do to buy “later” (the more honest word is “soon”.)

Or, a friend recommends a book and instead of making a note of it I immediately download it, feeling giddy.

Or, I’m in my Sunday spot (my sofa) reading book reviews, downloading recommended books that interest me. I feel, in words of my friend Victor, like King Midas.

I can own any book in the world in seconds without ever leaving my house. I don’t even have to turn on my computer. And it doesn't feel like a purchase. It feels like....well, a download.

Just last Saturday I bought five books in less than two minutes. Maybe my eyes were wide and I was cackling maniacally.

In sum, it’s gotten completely out of hand.

I therefore present you with my New Year’s resolution for 2010: to read at least 50% of the books on my Kindle before I can buy any more.

If you want to give me a book, however, I can’t stop you.

Photo: painting by Giandomenico Tiepolo, wikipedia