A columnist of heart and mind

A columnist of heart and mind
Interviewing the animals at Children's Fairyland in Oakland. L-R: Bobo the sheep, Gideon the miniature donkey, me, Tumbleweed Tommy the miniature donkey, Juan the alpaca, Coco the pony

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Smell test

(Above: TamTam and one of her kittens)

The UC Berkeley Botanical Garden is eagerly anticipating the flowering of its Titan Arum, better known (for good reason) as the Corpse Plant.
The plant is expected to bloom on July 1, when it will emit a revolting rotting-flesh-like stench for 24 hours. Director Paul Licht says Titan Arum seeds will be sold to the public to grow their own at home.
"The Titans make nice house plants," he says, adding in a masterpiece of understatement, "except perhaps during the one night when they bloom."
Meanwhile, did you read about the 62-foot-tall statue of Jesus in Monroe, Ohio, that burned to the ground after being struck by lightning last week, while the porn shop next door was untouched?
Talk about déjà vu! The same thing happened after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire. The bluenoses called it divine punishment for the wickedness of the Barbary Coast. But popular sentiment disagreed, as expressed by this doggerel:
"If, as they say, God spanked this town/For being over-frisky/Why did He burn the churches down/And save Hotaling's Whiskey?"
Next, a sad goodbye to former Warrior Manute Bol, who died much too early last weekend at age 47.
The press dubbed him the "Dinka Dunker," a tribute to his 7'7" height, which made him the tallest player in the NBA. But Warriors fans remember him most fondly for his 3-pointers, which he connected more often than any big man has any right to expect.
He will be most remembered for his humanitarian efforts in his native Sudan, of course. But he'll also go down in history as the player who coined the phrase "my bad."
In baseball news, next Tuesday will be the third anniversary of the one-sided trade when the A's essentially gave away talented but troubled outfielder Milton Bradley to the San Diego Padres in exchange for a minor-league pitcher who never amounted to much. The A's even had to throw in some cash to sweeten the deal.
The reason they unloaded him was his volatile temper. He fought with everybody - teammates, managers, umpires, fans, even the guy in the announcer's booth.
But Bradley has always maintained that his bad guy rep is a bum rap.
"I want people to say Milton Bradley was a pretty good ballplayer and a pretty good person," he said. "Anybody who is going to stand between me getting there, then they need to be eliminated."
Finally, farewell to Tamerack the Siberian husky, the kindest dog I ever met.
TamTam, as she was known to her many friends, belonged to Sarah Kidder of Oakland. She exuded sweetness and gentleness, and her kindness extended to anything smaller and weaker than she was - especially homeless kittens.
One day last year, she and Sarah were walking around Lake Merritt when they spotted a pair of kittens who had been dumped on the street.
Sarah scooped them up and took them home, but then TamTam unexpectedly took over.
"She would follow them around and lick their heads and make sure they were OK," says Sarah. "After 24 hours, they started following her around. Whenever she sat down, they sat down, too. Even when she was gnawing on a bone, she'd let them munch on it, too!"
But a few months ago, TamTam developed a malignant tumor on her muzzle that was inoperable. Knowing that she had only had a short time left, Sarah crammed as many doggy pleasures as she could into TamTam's remaining days.
Shortly before she died, Sarah threw her a 13½ birthday party (that's 95 in dog years). All of her friends came to say goodbye, each bearing her favorite doggy treats.
She was the center of attention, and she loved every minute of it.
But a few days later it was clear that she was suffering too much, and Sarah reluctantly had her put down. She was with TamTam when she died.
Go to sleep now, TamTam. Good dog.

1 comment:

Susanne said...

Great column--(quite instructional on those stink plants) but I can't believe Manute is gone! I saw him a very long time ago at the one and only basketball game I've ever been to and he was entirely unforgettable. His praying mantis type movements still burn in my memory and I'm not even sure why. I appreciate your remembering lovely Tamerack, who is also unforgettable. She was a fine example to all. And finally, "my bad" had been puzzling me of late. Thanks for clearing that one up for me-although I'm not sure I'll be using that phrase myself anytime soon.