My brother the car whisperer

Gary, left, shown here with brother Dave, loved cars from an early age.

When Gary Crowe was 16, his life was disrupted by the arrival of a little sister (me). Very shortly thereafter, he got sick with appendicitis. So sick, in fact, that Mom and Dad had to sign off on a not-yet-approved drug in order to save his life.

Thankfully, he recovered, but he’d missed so much school that he ended up dropping out. In the 1960s, North Central High School in Indianapolis did not have programs for budding auto mechanics like him. Gary loved cars, classic cars in particular. He worked for a number of automobile shops in Indianapolis and always had a car with which he was, or had been, tinkering. One was a red MG convertible, and I remember Gary, older brother Dave, and I tooling around in it.

He moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1978 and worked for a car dealership, eventually heading its service department. For a few years, he lived on a 35-foot cabin cruiser.

I’m not even sure what this was, but Gary understood it.

Gary always answered my car and computer questions (which also gave me an excuse to check in with him) and even helped me buy a car from across the country. As the years went by and the recession threw bumps and craters in his employment path, he discovered a talent and love for cooking.

Gary passed away Feb. 25, 2021 at age 70 in California.

While trying to think through ways to celebrate my brother’s life during a pandemic, I kept going back to his high school days. Would a vocational program have kept him in school? Probably. I can’t know for sure, but I do know the folks who work on our cars deserve good training in everything from basic engine function to the intricacies of today’s vehicles. As a supervisor, Gary would no doubt have appreciated new mechanics who came well prepared to diagnose and repair.

Therefore, I invite anyone who would like to do so to contribute to the automotive services program at the J. Everett Light Career Center at North Central to help today’s car whisperers get started. Just follow the link to the online giving form, select the “in memory of” option, and type in Gary Crowe under additional gift information. The very kind folks there will get it to the right place.

Ride on, Gary.

Animal Wise: Eclipse energy

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Photo credit: btwashburn via Foter.com / CC BY

My sixth-grade teacher at Mary Evelyn Castle Elementary School, Ms. Libby Stanton, told us a solar eclipse was coming up on Feb. 26, 1979. We wouldn’t see it as much in Indianapolis as the Pacific Northwest, but it was still pretty cool. “The next time this happens, you guys are going to be about 50!” she said, still in her twenties herself.

Well, here we are on the eve of that next solar eclipse, which will be much more visible across the United States. While this 50-year-old will not be among the throngs hitting the road for the best view or donning specialized sunglasses, I still think it’s cool. But I’ve been wondering about its effect on animals.

Animal Wellness Magazine sent out an email cautioning people to keep pets inside with the blinds and shades drawn, not let them damage their eyes by looking at the eclipse, and watch for signs of anxiety or confusion due to the sudden change from light to dark. “Solar eclipses bring crowds and fireworks, which can make a dog act out in fear,” it said. “Try to get your dog back home as soon as possible!” A story from KATU in Portland, Oregon, a city which went dark during the 1979 eclipse, also recommends keeping animals away from the hubbub. Good common sense bears repeating, I guess.

I work regularly as an animal Reiki practitioner and animal communicator at Summit Equestrian Center here in Fort Wayne. The horses and other animals, many of whom are rescues, give so much to the kids, veterans, and others who come for therapeutic riding programs, and I try to give something back by sharing Reiki healing energy with them. And if there is anything they want to convey, or anything director Allison Wheaton wants me to find out from them, I do that as well.

So the other day, using a blend of words and imagery, I made my usual rounds and briefly let everyone know that in a few days, the moon will be moving in front of the sun for just a little while during the afternoon. I told them it may get kind of dark, but it won’t be night yet. Nothing bad will be going on, and they need not fear; it’s just one of those once-in-a-while happenings in our wild, wonderful universe.

I made a point of telling the rooster (the General), the chickens, and the ducks (Quincy, and two more I call Franco and Isabel), because they all tend to get anxious over any change. I asked Allison’s horse Lola, a mother figure at the barn; and dwarf miniature horse Whinnie, who keeps everything in order (just ask her); to help everyone stay calm on Monday. And I shared that peaceful Reiki space with all of the animals, making sure to send some energy in advance for Monday afternoon. (Yes, you can do that.) Everyone se

During the eclipse, I’ll probably take my laptop out on the screened-in porch and let my two cats and my dear, sweet, reactive collie-German shepherd-golden retriever mix hang out there with me while I work. We are not in the path of totality, but 85 percent is still significant. Without looking at the sun, we’ll see what the light does. Maybe we’ll tune into WFWA-TV39‘s live coverage. Then — blessedly, toward the tail end of the solar event — the dog has a grooming appointment I scheduled several months ago, not realizing it was eclipse day.

I’ll be interested in hearing how everyone’s animal companions fared, or how you’re preparing them for this event. Comments, as always, are welcome!