Blackheath Chronicles 5


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In Praise of Lulu-Belle

This was going to be a very different blog but this morning,  just after 7am, our Lulu-Belle passed away. It was her time. Her passing was peaceful and filled with grace. Her heart just gave out. This was the death I wished for her, not one of drawn out suffering and illness.

 She came into the world as part of a litter delivered by her dam Mia-Moo in my bedroom on a late summer Saturday on 20 February 2010. Sired by the delightful Ziggy, his playful energy and our own sweet nature combined to make for a divine doggy personality. She’s been a blessing from her first to her last breath.  

 It is a privilege to be part of a pup’s life from conception to delivery to every puppy milestone to adulthood and eventually to the passing days. Lulu-Belle had her final walk with us yesterday. Us being Mom, Miles and I. If I didn’t stop her she would have chased after the security vehicle – which has been a favourite past-time. This running after things came from her non Great Dane lineage as Ziggy was mixed with a breed that loves to run and chase. 

 She got to run after some birds and geese for a bit. She was full of beans yesterday, enjoying every minute of the walk. She had her favourite foods yesterday – Woollies beef mince for breakfast on stale sourdough bread. Dinner was Farmer Angus’s beef mince on fresh sourdough. Of course, I couldn’t afford to feed her this everyday but ever since she turned 11, every day extra is a blessing so there’s been a lot of treating in this house.

 Having accompanied other’s in her pack – brother Boetie-Boy, sister Lilly and mom Mia in their last days I knew that the passing days were upon us. When she turned up her nose at the chicken which is the regular meal fare (along with Farmer Angus’s pet mince when we could still get it) I would substitute for some of my beef or get the chicken livers which she never said no to. Just the smell of chicken livers frying would get her into the kitchen. Needless to say I would also have some of the chicken livers – it’s so good fried with herbs from the garden, a bit of olive oil and you get that sticky tacky residue in the pan that’s best with some sourdough bread and a runny egg.

 Lulu-Belle’s last years were particularly good as her diet changed drastically from around the age of 4,5 as a result of Boetie’s cancer diagnosis. After all my research into osteosarcoma (the cancer Boetie and Lilly had) the pack was taken off commercially produced dog food and started eating a species appropriate diet. I believe that the change in diet is what allowed their dam Mia to live to almost 12 years. This is ancient for a Great Dane as their life expectancy is pegged between 8 and 10 years old. 

 We will miss our girl with the many names – Lulu-Belle, Bella Wella, Poppie-lop or just Poppie. We will look for her on our walks but she won’t be there. When we wake I will look for her at the foot of my bed where her mattress is but she won’t be there. I won’t see her at her favourite spots in the lounge or in the studio. Doggy spirits don’t linger. I learnt this with my other dogs. They are eager for the adventure beyond the rainbow bridge. 

 She will be in our hearts though. Our hearts are overflowing with grief and love for our divine Lulu-Belle.


Blackheath Chronicles 4

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This week collaboration came up repeatedly. I did a little talk at an inaugural network gathering which was focussed on collaboration. A few days later, Bruno Mars and Anderson.Paak dropped the intro and first single of the Silk Sonic collaboration we knew nothing about. They kept it under wraps and surprised millions of fans this week.

 Lived Values

Collaboration is based on the lived values of generosity, trust and respect. It’s not something you can pay lip-service too, nor something you can manufacture, it’s organic. Watch that lovely Apple TV YouTube episode featuring Paak and Mars where they talk about their collaboration. Both these artists have collaborated with others in the past but you can see and feel how deep, true and fun this collaboration was. 

 Unlocking Each Other’s Gifts

Collaboration puts the spotlight on the unique gifts each person brings to the party and it reveals the brilliance and heart of that particular gift. Like Mars says, it lifts everyone’s game. Gifts can shine by themselves but it is in collaboration where they are often raised to levels not seen before. I know this is true for me. I shine more brightly when others hold a space where I’m seen, respected, appreciated and where I can make a contribution that is uniquely mine to make.

The Process

The best collaborations are a natural flow which starts with meaningful connection and/or friendship. You need to spend time together, working, eating and playing. It – the collaboration – needs space to breath and develop.

Keeping it secret or not? I think some collaborations do better when it’s done away from the public gaze and consequent high expectations. The Paak-Mars Silk Sonic collaboration seems to have benefited from privacy. Others are fun to be a part of from the get-go. The recent Lee Minho x Lee Seunggi collaboration was one of those. The first episode just pulled you in and fans were happy with how it unfolded. I was one of those satisfied fans although I had a different expectation of what the outcome would be. It was good to see the process of the latter because of the bond between the two and the feeling of being included in something that’s unfolding.

It’s difficult to create magic by yourself and it is nigh impossible to accomplish great things alone. Collaboration is the key that unlocks the gate to the kingdom of magic. I can’t wait to hear the rest of the magic that is Silk Sonic.