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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Reports Of My Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated, But We Can Still Talk About It. (Death, That Is.)


Call it a sign of Getting Older. Maybe I'm even getting a little Morbid, I don't know. But for the past several months, I've been fascinated with the obituaries in my beloved Cleveland Plain Dealer. I'm never looking for anyone in particular--that's not it. I'm intrigued by these little tiny paragraphs that encapsulate a person's life, moreso by what they don't say than by what they do, and always by how they say it.

Not so long ago, obituaries used to mention the Cause Of Death: there would be phrases such as after a brief illness, or died suddenly, or even in some more graphic cases lost his battle with lung cancer, or something like that. Now I read less and less of that. Obituaries--or "Final Notices," as they are sometimes euphemistically referred to in some publications--have become far more tasteful and subtle in that regard. They don't even say that the person has died. I'm all for that. I mean, after all, it's an obituary. Why do you think he or she is written up in here? It simply proceeds with alacrity and lists the relations and, if the departed's relatives ponied up for a big spot in the Obits, some other interesting facts are included such as hobbies and military service and the rest. I'm particularly fond of the ones that are obviously written by family and not merely by funeral home or newspaper staff. The family ones are much more personal and touching and they have more adjectives. They tell of a woman who had a "quick wit and warmth even under the direst of circumstances." They list "special friends" and even a "longtime companion and loyal guardian," all of whom were obviously pets, judging by their names. These deceased men and women didn't leave behind just husbands and wives, they left behind beloved husbands and dear wives. And their obituaries list all of the grandchildren or nieces and nephews by name.

My newest favorite thing, though, is this trend--around Northeastern Ohio, anyway--of putting in somewhat non-traditional pictures for the obituary. I love to see the old, old pictures of a 1940s beauty next to an obituary for a woman who died at age 89. Or a vintage, youthful Marine in the handpainted portrait style for a man who died at age 72. The other day, I noticed a lovely picture of a woman holding what looked to be her favorite cat and, noses touching, I'd swear they both were smiling. What a wonderful last picture for everyone to remember her by! (Personally, I've never been a fan of any formal, posed picture except for wedding portraits. When I go back and look at my boys' school pictures, I love to see the imperfections: the cowlick, the gap in the front teeth, the simple, everyday teeshirts. It's who they were at the time! My kids never got dressed up except...wow. Maybe for...a wedding!)

Today, however, I saw the Obituary Picture to beat all Obituary Pictures once and for all. When I saw it, I was immediately sad for two reasons: one, that this woman was dead; and two, that I had never known her. As I read her obituary very carefully, I felt like I could surmise quite a bit about her. I saved it so that I could scan and post it here for you. I'm including the date of the newspaper so that you know I'm not making it up. Out of respect for her and her family, I'm blackening the names. I think you'll agree that this is, by far, the most incredible Obituary Picture you've ever seen.

I showed it to Rick, and I said, "I'll be dead, of course, when you decide whether or not to put a picture in the paper for my obituary. I'd prefer you don't put one like this in of me because that's just not my style, but I want you to put in whatever kind of picture--at whatever stage of my life--that you think is the way I should be remembered."

I'm unconvinced as to the idea of an afterlife; I try not to dwell too much on questions so deep and impenetrable. But, if there is one, I hope I have an opportunity to look her up.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

If This Is The Penultimate Post At The Dept., I Can Udderly Live With That

It's time for a new post, and I'm not too sure what I feel like writing about. Or if I even feel like writing. There's sort of a pervasive cloud hanging over a lot of the Minor Blogworld lately, I think. Oh, some people got all jazzed up after attending a conference; some people are making their blogs their business; some people are are participating in NaBloMyHeadOff, and that leaches readers/comments away; some people have hooked up with a comment promotion blog whose members zip around and comment only on the sites of whomever leaves the top comment on the list (or something) and then post a badge on their blog. Sigh. It's all very worky. And calisthenic. But it's all making me, for the first time ever, start to question whether or not the Dept. of Nance has run its natural course. I don't know. I'm not alone in this quandary, I do know that. No one wants to play to an empty theater; I guess it's the age-old conundrum of the tree falling in the uninhabited forest.

For now, I will continue to reflect upon the Original Mission of the Dept., and whether or not this enterprise is still satisfying to me. Maybe I'm just suffering from An Eeyore Episode, and a lengthy one at that. But maybe it's just time to gracefully fade away. I'm not sure yet. I'll decide in time. For now, let's move on.

Thanks to Google News, this arresting headline was brought to my attention, and I think it must be brought to yours. I'm not sure I even want you to know anything else. Period. Here is that headline, in all its wonderful imperative glory: VET SCHOOL 2.0: STICK YOUR HAND UP A VIRTUAL COW BUTT. Well? What did I tell you? Is that arresting and wonderful, or what? If you insist on knowing more, here is the link to the article. But you know me: I will be more than happy--overjoyed, even--to give you the most germane bits right here. Because, as I have said time and time again, when there is a good animal story to impart, I am all over it; that is my vow to you.

But I digress.

The lead of the article states, and I quote: "There’s nothing tidy about sticking your arm deep into a cow’s backside, getting up to your elbows in warm and gooey bovine innards. But for new vet students, there’s no avoiding the procedure: To diagnose pregnancy or check for infection, you’ve got to reach into a cow’s rectum and feel for the uterus, ovaries and stomach. Unfortunately, proper palpation is a tough skill to teach, because once your arm is buried inside a cow butt, no one can see what you’re doing." End quote.

Would anyone care for a hamburger?

Oh, I hear you. "Nance," you ask earnestly. "Is it in any way possible for this machine to get another headline almost as wonderful?"

Dearest, dearest ones. It is my extreme and uddermost pleasure to share. Please, please finish drinking any and all beverages as to avoid any spray onto keyboards and monitors. (If it is not too late.) If you are reading this in The Workplace, try to be Discreet. Are you ready? Here, then, it is: ROBOT COW RECTUM: FOR EDUCATIONAL, NOT RECREATIONAL, PURPOSES. (I especially adore the comma usage, don't you?) The writer of this post chose to take a distinctly more titillating tack and observed of its inventor, "with robotic organs and a monitor, she can teach students exactly what they should (and definitely should not) be grabbing." O-kay...! Someone is a little too preoccupied with teats and rump roasts.

This Informative Post would not be complete without a picture of said device. Especially entertaining is the Actual Cow in the photo. And the incredible posture of the Woman Whose Arm Is Elbow-Deep Into The Virtual Cow Butt. And...oh, hell. Just look for yourself.


Now, seriously...aren't you glad you stopped by?
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