Asking Amy issue #3 March 19

Spring comes slowly. Featuring: Sneak Peek Q & A, Stories of Lost and Found, RJ Savage Rewinds, Laura Recommends

Afternoon tea at 10 degrees

(Photo by me, mug made by my brother-in-law Jacques at Maryhill Clayworks, view of the Lake brought to you by ancient glaciers, insulated teapot from my own collection — which means that I can’t remember where I got it)

Spring dawns agonizingly slowly where I live. First — the light changes. You feel your cells start to thaw and come alive. But then … the agony of several weeks (two months, really), of alternating 10 degree days with 40 degree dank and rainy days, as you scan the landscape for signs of change.

The slow spring. It creates temporal philosophers out of all of us, and inspires great poetry from a few:

A Light Exists in Spring

Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

(Above is video I took this week of the chicks at our local feed store. Every year at the beginning of March, I start visiting the store every day to see if the chicks have come in. For me, watching them (and listening to them PEEP PEEP PEEP) is a true harbinger of the dawn of the new season)

This week’s issue is themed to the twin human experiences of loss and discovery.

But first, a “sneak peek” Q and A from an upcoming “Ask Amy” column:

Dear Amy: My fiancé and I are getting married this September! We’ve already sent out “save the dates.” 

We decided not to invite my friend, “Mark,” and I feel terrible about it.
Mark has battled alcoholism for the past two years. 

I feel like I’ve done everything I can do to help him on his journey. He’s had multiple hospital stays and went to in-patient rehab. 

Prior to this, we’d talked about being the best man at each other’s wedding, but our relationship has changed. 

I recently found out through his family member that he moved down the street from me a month ago. I’ve tried reaching out to him, but he isn’t the best at returning text messages and phone calls. 

My fiancé, who is wise beyond her years, has said that some friends are for a season, a reason, and for a lifetime. 

However, I just can’t seem to shake the guilt I feel for not inviting him to our wedding. Your advice?

Future Groom

Dear Groom: Your girlfriend’s take on friendship is wise. Your guilt is also sending you a strong message. You should pay attention.

It is understandable that you might not want to saddle “Mark” with the pressure and stress of being your best man, but – why not invite him to your wedding? 

His disease has a very high impact on all of his relationships, but the loop of alienating others and self-isolating makes everything worse. 

Your relationship has been strained. You cannot cure his alcoholism. You likely can’t even help him, but it might be good for both of you if you hung in there.

Whether he could handle attending the event should be up to him.

Lost: Our identity.

This story about “deep fakes” shook me. Don’t know what a deep fake is? I wish I didn’t; and the women quoted in this story wish they didn’t, too.

Here’s how the story starts…

Someone sends you a message: “You need to see this, I’m sorry,” followed by a link. What pops up is your own face, looking back at you as you engage in acts of hardcore pornography. Of course, it’s not really you. But it is your likeness; an image of you that has been mapped onto a video of someone else using AI technology. This is what’s known as a “deepfake.” It’s happening across the globe—to actors, politicians, YouTubers and regular women—and in most countries, it's entirely legal.

You can read the harrowing rest of this piece in Vogue: linked here.

https://www.vogue.com/article/scary-reality-of-deepfakes-online-abuse

Found: A prehistoric bicuspid

I’m going to take a guess and say that if YOU found a 3 lb, 6.5 inch long megalodon’s tooth in a hole in the ground, you’d know you’d really found something.

The man who found this tooth, near Savannah, Georgia, said: “I really wanted to run around because I knew what I had found,” he said. “It was amazing - it was sitting right in front of me.”

https://www.postandcourier.com/news/man-finds-a-6-45-inch-prehistoric-shark-tooth-in-summerville-construction-site/article_482a54ce-8674-11eb-b7c1-e7a1936e37a4.html

Lost: Our libido

Have you had your fill of quarantine sourdough? Zoom cocktails? Sex with your partner? If so, you’re not alone. Turns out, many of us are not “cultivating our secret garden.”

Below is an excerpt from a story in the Guardian about the lowered libidos in “locked-down” couples. Quoting a study done by the Kinsey Institute, the story says that around half of all couples surveyed have reported a marked decrease in libido.

Distance … some distance, at least … really does make the heart grow fonder.

“Lockdown – and the overfamiliarity it breeds – goes against desire, which is “triggered by a sense of novelty, or not knowing what to expect”. It is what the psychotherapist Esther Perel has described as cultivating “your secret garden” – maintaining some mystery or space. “If intimacy grows through repetition and familiarity, eroticism is numbed by familiarity,” she wrote in Mating in Captivity, her book about maintaining a fulfilling sex life in a long-term relationship.”

Here’s the full story: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2021/mar/16/not-tonight-darling-how-the-world-lost-its-libido-and-how-it-can-get-it-back

Lost: A very good boy

My friend Sandy Strong and her husband split their time between homes in Wyoming and Georgia. While Sandy and I haven’t seen one another in person in a few years, I keep up with her on Instagram (@strongsandygirl). Like many of my cohorts, Sandy has transitioned from the blur of life as a hard-working professional, wife, and mother to a post-parenting existence: creating and then living out new chapters. Sandy owns a boutique cycling studio, and when she isn’t pushing her classes to climb that last virtual hill (she is a human Peloton), she leads an active and thoughtful lifestyle — mainly outdoors.

Sandy’s photos all feature varying degrees of “romping in nature” — hiking, biking, fishing, boating — and all with her three wonderful dogs in tow.

Meet Lil Bit, Scooter, and Samantha

My favorite bit of pup-romping comes from one of Sandy’s postings from February. That’s Scooter, the youngest of their dogs, being Scooter: running toward and running away. A canine Peloton, I guess — always pushing. The day I saw this video I fell in love with this spirited pup. I also granted him an unofficial AKC name: “Scooter Of The Floppy Ears.”

Scooter is a Catahoula Leopard Hound, which means that he excels at speed, tracking, and human heart stealing.

Sandy’s next posting (early this month) was very hard to read. And the reason I am sharing it here is not only because it features a “Lost” story, but also because it highlights the heroic efforts of some very loving humans to find a very good boy who one day — just kept running.

“Three weeks ago today our Scooter ran off path to chase something, just as each of our 3 dogs had done daily for the last 5 weeks. We will never know why he disappeared that day but we continue to hope for some kind of miracle to happen, and I’m sure we always will. He’s a strong boy, and I choose to believe he’s either making his way out there on his own or someone saw his handsomeness and picked him up. I won’t believe he gave up or was attacked (as we first thought). Anyone who loves dogs as we do, understands the immeasurable joy they bring into our lives. And when you lose one, the grief is real and deep. We miss you, Scooter Pie”

“We’ve been told by the experts that dogs are more resilient than we think and to trust that he is still alive but in survival mode. Meaning all he thinks about is shelter, food and water. And humans are now predators so he’s afraid of being seen. The strategy is to set up feeding stations in the area where he was last seen, with trail cameras and now we wait. I refresh the feeding stations in the morning and before dark, the times they go to feed. The kindness of the community here has been so heartwarming. People who don’t know Scooter have been looking for him, it’s simply amazing. Friends and family have pitched in from afar with great leads in how to get help doing this right. What is NOT right to do now, is to call or whistle, it could scare him off. So, now we quietly wait. Thanks for all of your thoughts and prayers, we will definitely shout out loud if we get some sightings soon. Hang in there Scooter, we miss you and are waiting for you❤️”

“Unfortunately we don’t have any good news... YET. Have learned more about luring a lost dog back than anyone would ever want to know. Scooter was positively seen 4 days after we lost him, surviving 3 nights of 10 degree temps and non stop snow. Since then, no more sightings (until yesterday!) and as I increasingly grew discouraged and incredibly sad, I continued to do everything suggested: setting up feeding stations (with trail cameras) where he was lost, at our house, where he was spotted (over 2 miles away) etc. So far I’ve fed a bunch of fox and elk but no Scooter, which meant he probably was no longer in the area.
We brought in a drone... Searched in 3-4 ft snow in snow shoes which is a great workout at any other time but not when looking for a pup.... and even cooked bacon on a camp stove to lure him back. That only works if he’s somewhere close by though. Meanwhile the temps dropped to -10 one night and I couldn’t sleep thinking about him out there alone and cold. “

”Now for some good news: Everyone at Snake River Sporting Club has been so helpful, supportive and willing to do anything to help find our boy.

I’ve also found and been blessed with the help of a small volunteer group, Ladies in the Trap, from Boise, ID who will help trap Scooter if we can get some more sightings. Since he’s now in survival mode, I’ve been told he wouldn’t even come to me, would only recognize me once he’s in my arms and could smell me again. We had 2 possible sightings yesterday, almost 10 miles away. So we’ve added more feeding stations in that area too. I’ve heard so many stories about how resilient dogs are, for example: how one small dog after having traveled through deep snow in the elk reserve (where there are also wolves) was found wandering up a highway, a MONTH later.
As we hang on to hope that he will be one of those stories, I’m incredibly encouraged by all the goodness out there. So, to end with my opening line, we haven’t found Scooter YET but I am now hoping for a miracle Scooter story. Some day, hopefully soon, Scooter Pie🐶
Thanks everyone for your love and prayers. It really means a lot ❤️”

FOUND: A plucky, lucky Yorkie

Until hearing the incredible story of Lady Gaga's stolen-and-returned dogs earlier in the month, I never knew that stealing dogs was a-thing-that-people-do. I do wonder if offering a $500,000 payout for the return of the dogs might actually encourage more dog-stealing, but hey, that’s me — and what do I know about anything?

So — enjoy the improbable tale of Connor, an adorable Yorkie who was stolen from his family’s home in 2007, and then reunited with them last week.

According to the account in People magazine, Connor would now be 16 years old, which means that he is not only a survivor, but may have been well cared for during his years away.

https://people.com/pets/yorkie-dog-stolen-reunited-with-owner-13-years-later/

Lost AND Found: A harrowing survival story, a miraculous reconnection:

A little girl, lost at sea, watches her family die. Two young fishermen out on a lark find the catch of a lifetime. A well-reported piece in the LA Times quite honestly had my heart in my throat. People Magazine excerpts it here.

And I wonder: Why do things work out the way they do?

https://people.com/human-interest/woman-reunites-with-fishermen-who-saved-her-life-after-a-shipwreck-35-years-ago/

Found: Pixels of the Past

Recently, I wandered into our local “re-use” center — a huge and magical warehouse that is the repository of the castoffs of modern life. I asked if they had a “cassette player” for sale. The salesperson did not know what that was.

Enter now into the work of Railey Jane Savage, who not only has a huge collection of VHS tapes, but possesses the technology to play them.

RJ Savage REWINDS:

Railey Jane Savage is rewinding, re-viewing, and reviewing her entire home VHS collection, one scratchy tape at a time. Doing so is a form of time travel. In pre-internet days, before we had EVERYTHING EVER MADE at our disposal, choices were made. (For instance, should one “tape over” something which was itself taped over something else?

You can read her full essay “Junk Food: Twice Upon a Time” on Tumblr

“From 1998 to 2008 Cartoon Network ran ‘Cartoon Theater’ on Saturday nights, showing an animated feature with commercials at regular intervals. Most of the movies were miss-able—how many Scooby-Doo, Flintstones, and Land Before Time movies did the world actually need?—but there were gems amongst the garbage. “Twice Upon a Time” intrigued me from the start and I made sure the VCR was cued. Even watching it in 1999 I could tell it was, well, somewhere out of time.

“Construction paper characters and manipulated live-action footage were slammed together to create something I’d never seen before, and haven’t really since. The 1983 movie is incredible, written and directed by John Korty and Charles Swenson, and helmed by executive producer George Lucas, though it’s practically unheard of today.

“But in the 20+ years since I insisted on taping the then-16-year-old movie I have realized how abstract, and yet completely relevant this tiny slice of not-so-popular culture has proven.

“I hadn’t considered that our VCR was recording an inflection point, but it feels that way; a movie already out-of-time…

“If you can find it, you should watch it.”

[Railey Jane Savage lives in Ludlowville, NY with her two cats]

Laura Recommends:

Wherein my friend Laura recommends great stuff to try:

This week: A method of organizing your thoughts using tactile tools

“In an increasingly digital world, I still really enjoy writing by hand. I like sending mail (see also: last week), I like writing out ideas, and I like taking notes on books I read or ideas other people bring up. I feel as though it clarifies my thinking and helps me mentally cement complex ideas in a way that strictly digital note-taking doesn't. Anyway, my favorite way to take notes is the Cornell method, developed in the 1940s by a very famous education professor at Cornell University. 

“I learned about this way of taking notes in high school after accidentally buying a Cornell-lined notebook. The idea is to take notes on the regular-ruled side of the paper, then use the wide margin to highlight or make note of big ideas in the material. I've found this kind of system extremely helpful and it's almost always the first thing I bring up when I tutor someone. Plus, I like the paper. It makes me feel organized, and like I've at least got one thing under control. If you find yourself managing a lot of tasks that need revision, or you need a better way to visualize a lot of points of information, give it a try.”

[Laura Lorson is a news editor, radio producer and broadcast announcer. She lives in northeastern Kansas with her husband, a Great Pyrenees dog, and a lot of books and records.]

I highly recommend that you follow Laura on Twitter @prairielaura